Braunvieh Association of America | The American Rancher

Braunvieh Cattle Put it All Together

Braunvieh Association of America | The American Rancher 10-21-19

Check out this link to Braunvieh Cattle Put It All Together    Article by Steve Weisman


What is a Braunvieh?


The most asked question directed at most Braunvieh breeders is, "What is a Braunvieh?" or "What kind of a crossbreed is Braunvieh?" We hope to answer all the questions in this information. You may also visit the National Bruanvieh Association Website at: 
Braunvieh first of all is not a crossbreed or a new breed developed using two or more breeds. On the contrary, Braunvieh may be the oldest pure breed on earth, with records dating back to 800 B.C. Recently, archeologists have found cattle bones among the ruins of the ancient Swiss Lake Dwellers similar to those of the present day Braunvieh. This would date these cattle in the region to the Bronze Age.

Braunvieh cattle in Europe were used as a dual purpose breed, draft, meat and milk.  Their milk is very high in butter fat and their meat has excellent marbling. Good bone and substance of frame makes them the perfect breed for crossing on lesser quality breeds.  Their dispositions are by far one of the best factors. Centuries of breeding programs utilized their easy going temperment.  In Switzerland, breeders decorate and parade their favorite cows down their main part of town when coming down from the mountain range for winter.

This is the docile breed associated with the scenic Swiss Alps. Development of the breed came into its own in the 18th century in the mountain valleys of Switzerland and production records on milk and meat performance were established in the 19th century. Today, roughly 40% of the cattle in Switzerland are Braunvieh and they have spread throughout the world. Due to their high performance and adaptability, Braunvieh are used in all major countries of the world. Braunvieh are found in over 60 countries extending from the Arctic Circle to the tropics at altitudes varying between 0 and 12,500 feet. World population of Braunvieh is over 7,000,000 head. Herdbooks are being kept by breeders' associations in 42 countries.  Approximately 130 head of Braunvieh were imported into the United States from Switzerland between 1869 and 1880. This was the basis for the development of the American Brown Swiss that was declared a dairy breed in 1890, and therefore became a different breed. American Brown Swiss have since spread to Canada, Mexico and throughout the world including Switzerland. In the mid-nineteen hundreds, Original Braunviehs were imported by Mexico where they have flourished as a beef breed. In Mexico, they are used in a commercial capacity to upgrade the beef characteristics of the indigenous Zebu cattle. There, separate herdbooks are kept for the cattle, sometimes referred to as European type Brown Swiss and American Brown Swiss.   Thousands of years of development in the Swiss Alps where the breed originated is the key to Braunvieh's vigor and adaptability. Braunvieh do well in the United States, as well as in Canada and the southern tropics of Mexico. With their ruggedness and typical docile disposition, Braunvieh adapt well to tropical areas, grasslands and high altitude ranges. The natural dark pigmentation around eyes makes pinkeye unlikely. Braunvieh females are proven to be early maturing and extremely fertile, and Braunvieh bulls are capable, fertile breeders at 12 to 14 months of age. Herd fertility is at least five times more economically important than the growth traits for herd profitability. The Braunvieh female and bull are specialists in fertility.  Braunvieh is a German word which translated into English means Brown Cow. Their hair is various shades of brown, predominately mousy brown, but ranging from light brown with gray to very dark brown. The border of the muzzle is very light, as is the poll, and often a lighter colored dorsal stripe is seen. The udder and inside of the legs and underline also being the lighter shade. A darker, smokier shading is often evident around the shoulders and neck compared to the rest of the body. The switch of the tail is dark brown to black. The skin is pigmented, the muzzle is black, and the hooves are dark and very hard. Body weights range from 1,100 to 1,500 pounds for adult females and 2,000 to 2,500 pounds for adult males. Steers at optimum slaughter weight are 1,300 pounds at 13 months of age. 

 Canada's first importation of Original Braunvieh, the bull Aron, was in 1968. Subsequently, more bulls and females were imported directly into Canada in several importations between 1968 and 1985. These were selected in Europe with emphasis on beef production. In Canada, Original Braunvieh cattle are registered by the Canadian Brown Swiss Association and are referred to as Beef Brown Swiss. They are registered separately from the Dairy Brown Swiss. Many breeders in Canada are members of the Braunvieh Association of America and some of their cattle are registered in the United States. Original Swiss Braunvieh were imported directly into the United States from Switzerland in 1983. Since then a significant exchange of breeding stock has taken place between American and Canadian breeders. In the 1990s, there have been several importations of Original Braunvieh from Europe in the form of frozen embryos. The Braunvieh breed association in the United States (The Braunvieh Association of America) was organized and incorporated in 1984.

 In the late 1960s, in order to increase milk production, Switzerland began importing American Brown Swiss semen to use on the native Original Braunviehs. 
As a result the majority of the Braunvieh cattle in Switzerland as well as other European countries today have been crossed with Brown Swiss. The Swiss Braunvieh Association registers all Braunvieh cattle in Switzerland, but the cattle that have no Brown Swiss in their pedigree are certified to be Original and have the words Original Braunvieh stamped on the certificate of registry. There is an association of breeders in Switzerland organized for the purpose of preserving and promoting the Original Braunvieh breed, the Swiss Original Braunvieh Association (SOBA)  


The Braunvieh is a well-muscled animal with correct feet and legs, due to generations of natural selection in the Swiss Alps.
Braunvieh are known as a balanced breed, possessing body confirmation for optimum physiological performance. This and the fact that their hair is sleek and fine in warm weather and can grown heavy in response to extended cold weather makes Braunvieh adaptable to different environments. The physical characteristic that this breed is rapidly becoming noted for is the carcass traits that are needed to carry the beef industry into the next century. Braunvieh sired steers have consistently hung up top carcasses all around the country including renowned steer test like The Great Western Beef Expo, Sterling, Colorado, Beef Empire Days, Garden City, KS, and Texas A&M Ranch to Rail program.
This is the breed to lead the beef industry into the future. Braunvieh put it all together: Maternal, Muscling, Marbling, and Performance.


Braunvieh cattle fit most carcass grid premium programs requiring both [meat]  superior marbling and superior yield grades. Braunvieh and Braunvieh cross cattle can be harvested at an efficient endpoint and reach an acceptable quality grade before carcasses get too big. This eliminates those later, costly days on feed, and helps keeps the steak on the plate the right size. Braunvieh genetics have been especially valuable in their use with Bos Indicus herds. Most beef alliance programs accept no more than 25% Bos Indicus breeding in their feeding programs. Braunvieh–Bos Indicus brood cows bred to a Braunvieh bull or a bull of another breed satisfy this requirement while still meeting your heat tolerance needs. Braunvieh–Bos Indicus halfblood females are also excellent mother cows who mature at a young age and are very fertile.

High butterfat, feed efficient Braunvieh defy the maternal and carcass antagonism, as well as the marbling and muscling antagonism found in so many breeds. Braunvieh's ability to grade Choice or higher with desirable yield grades of 1 or 2 is clearly proven in results of the Great Western Beef Expo, Sterling, Colo. Since 1990, Braunvieh sired carcasses have been awarded 13 Max Fulscher Awards, given to those pens of five that are 100% choice quality grade or better plus 100% yield grade 2 or better. Braunvieh sired pens hold 36% of the Max Fulscher Awards given during a 14 year period. This is more than twice as many Max Fulscher Awards as the nearest breed competitor.