Braunvieh is a breed of cattle that originated in Switzerland and is possibly one of the oldest types of purebred cattle in the world. Valued for their contribution to beef and dairy production, the Braunvieh is a versatile breed. Braunviehs are varying shades of brown and are known for having structurally correct bodies with strong legs. Their longevity and docile natures make Braunviehs an asset to commercial producers and hobbyists.
Braunvieh may be the oldest breed of cattle, with archaelogical evidence of the breed dating back to 800 B.C. in Switzerland. The first breeders' society was formed in 1897, nearly 30 years after the breed was exported to the United States. The American Braunviehs served as the foundation for American Brown Swiss. Today, the Braunvieh Association of America is an organization committed to breeders and owners of the breed.
Braunvieh cattle are various shades of brown -- usually a light, mousy color. They typically have lighter shades around their muzzles and polls, while the coat darkens around the shoulders. The tip of the tail is usually dark, as is the muzzle. Braunviehs have strong, solid legs and hooves with hardy frames. Adult females weigh from 1,100 to 1,500 pounds and fully grown bulls range in weight from 2,000 to 2,500 pounds.
The Braunvieh are known as a dairy and beef breed. In Europe, Braunvieh are used primarily for dairy production, whereas the breed is primarily associated with beef production in the United States. The milk of Braunvieh cows has a close ration of protein to fat, which is a desirable characteristic. The carcass characteristics of Braunviehs are comparable to other beef breeds and they are efficient gainers in the pasture or feedlot.
It is unusual for a breed to be well-suited to dairy and beef production, as most cattle have been selectively bred for one purpose or another. The Braunvieh is a versatile, well-rounded breed. The United States Meat Animal Research Center tests breeds based on fertility, efficiency and productivity. Their research found that, although the Braunvieh is moderate in size, cows from this breed required the least assistance calving and kept calves healthy until weaning. Of all breeds tested, Braunvieh calves had the highest survival rate, with more than 95 percent of calves living to weaning time. This vigor, combined with the breed's overall longevity and versatility makes them well-suited to any purpose.
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