Brown Swiss Cattle Facts

Written by michelle hogan
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Brown Swiss Cattle Facts
The Brown Swiss cow is one of the oldest known breeds used for dairy. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Generally agreed upon by historians as the oldest of all the dairy breeds, bones of the Brown Swiss dated to 4,000 B.C. have been found. Benedictine monks from the Einsiedeln Monastery began breeding the Brown Swiss more than 1,000 years ago. Known for their easy adaptation to harsher climates and gentle temperament, Brown Swiss cattle are very high milk producers and can be used for meat as well.


The Brown Swiss is a breed of dairy cattle originally raised in the Swiss Alps. Their adaptation to this frequently harsh climate makes them immune to many issues that typically affect cattle, such as extreme heat and cold. Henry Clark of Belmont, Massachusetts, visited the canton of Schwyz in 1869 and subsequently imported a bull and seven females. The Brown Swiss Association was formed in Worcester, Massachusetts, soon after in 1880 as the breed began to catch on.


With a creamy white muzzle, dark blue eyes and light brown body, the Brown Swiss is a long-lived, strong cow. Used as both a dairy and meat animal, their feet and legs are stronger than most breeds, allowing them to stay in the milking rotation much longer. Weighing in at between 1,100 and 1,500 pounds, a Brown Swiss cow can stay in the milking rotation for up to 15 years and her calves have a 10 per cent higher survival rate than other types of cattle. Quiet in temperament, they are also a favourite for showing in fairs and lend their strength of character and body to other breeds when crossbred.

Milk Production

The Brown Swiss cow is, according to the Brown Swiss Association, second in milk production only to the Holstein. The average Brown Swiss cow produces 9991 Kilogram of milk each year containing 397 Kilogram of fat and 329 Kilogram of protein.


Cheese makers worldwide look for the raw milk from Brown Swiss cows for making different types of cheese. The high fat-to-protein ratio makes cheesemaking simpler, producing a richer tasting product. Farmers with Brown Swiss cows often receive more money for their milk than milk producers with other breeds of cattle.

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