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Brown Swiss Cattle

Brown Swiss are a popular breed of dairy cattle. They are one of the oldest dairy breeds still farmed, coming from north eastern Switzerland.

Evidence exists showing the breed being used around 1,000 AD, and further anecdotal evidence indicating it may have been farmed in Switzerland over 4,000 years ago.


Brown Swiss are mostly farmed as a dairy cow, being excellent for milk, protein and butterfat. They have also been used as a duel purpose breed in the past providing both milk and meat. Prized by cheese makers as they have an excellent fat-to-protein ratio for production of most chesses. They are widely distributed in many countries across the globe and are one of the most popular dairy breeds in the world, along with the Holstein Friesian and Jersey. They are adaptable to both hot and cold climates, can be farmed in a variety of management systems and terrains.


As the name suggests they usually have a brown coat, with lighter coloured face, underbelly and legs. However they can also come in grey, very dark brown, tan to very light cream. Their hooves, muzzle and switch are usually dark brown or black, with a dark blue eye pigment. They have big floppy ears and are quite tolerant to hot climates. They have large sturdy frame as are the second largest dairy cattle in the world. They can be naturally horned or polled.

Brown Swiss are known for their great somatic cells count (SCC), which is an indicator of milk quality.

Matures later than some breeds, but long lived and have a long production life. Docile, inquisitive and quiet temperament which is ideal for dairy production, where cattle are required to be easily handled, calm and compliant.

They possess a strong metabolism, sound hooves, and legs and feet which make them good forages on all sorts of terrains. They have a dark eye pigment which helps protect them from effects of solar radiation and cancer eye.

This is an extract from the eBook Cattle Breeds by staff of ACS Distance Education.

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