Fun - Brown Swiss


Wisconsin has seven breeds of cattle used by the Dairy industry. Let’s take a look at the Brown Swiss.


brown swiss

The Cattle site tells us this about brown Swiss,

“Most dairy historians agree that Brown Swiss or Braunvieh cattle are the oldest of all dairy breeds. The beautiful brown cows were developed in the north-eastern part of Switzerland. “

Michigan State University (MSU) says they originated in the Swiss Alps. They adapted well to the geography there.

I had been searching for Brown Swiss for well over a year. It may be coincidental, but they seem to be primarily located in the southern part of the state. I recently visited Mineral Point and stayed at the Commerce Street Brewery Hotel. I commend this hotel to you. While searching Dr. Google, I found a Brown Swiss farm in Monticello. It is the Voegeli Farm, about 36 miles from Mineral Point.

I was having a brewski at the Commerce Street hotel bar and told the bartender about the Voegeli farm and that I intended to visit it the next day. He responded immediately that a farm was nearby that raised Brown Swiss. He said the Wessel Dairy Farms, just a few miles away, raised them. So that’s where I went.

I Called ahead and left a voicemail. I had some difficulty finding the farm, but I finally landed there. It’s on Highway 23 in Mineral Point.

When I arrived, I met Rod Wessel. He gave me carte blanch to walk around and photograph his Brown Swiss. he also had Holsteins. That was very kind of him. I was clearly a busy man.

I walked over to the barn and went inside. What fun!

I learned from an article by Lynn Grooms for the website Agri-View published on December 30, 2019,

‍ “The (Wessel) family recently earned bronze recognition from the Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council. Their farm was one of six dairy farms nationwide recognized for excellence in reproductive efficiency and fertility management.”

Furthermore, Dr. Matt Byers,  a veterinarian with Military Ridge Veterinary Service of Dodgeville, was quoted saying,

“They’re top-of-the-line dairy producers, and their herds are outstanding. They have excellent management, facilities, and employees. Their proactive management is reflected in their milk production and reproduction program. Their artificial-insemination technician is phenomenal. I’m glad to be one small part of their team.”

That did not surprise me; I could tell the farm was laid out well and clean and neat. This article in Agri-View is informative. There is a real science to raising dairy cattle. The article describes some of it that has worked well for the Wessels.

I’ll show you some photos of the Brown Swiss I saw at the farm and highlight a few points about the breed drawn from the Cattle Site. First of all, I found the ladies very inquisitive. Look at Denise here. She wants to know everything about what I am doing.

This is Charlotte. She rested until I came by, and then her head popped up to give me a good stare, perhaps annoyed that I woke her up!

Brown Swiss are used as dairy and beef.  The breed is being added to farms throughout the world. They provide good milk, protein, and butter fat production. MSU says, “The fat-to-protein ratio in Brown Swiss milk is ideal for cheese.” They can stay in the milking herd for more lactations than many other breeds.

Recall cows must calve to produce milk. The lactation cycle is the period between one calving and the next.

Experts like the structure of their legs, their quiet temperament, their longevity, and their vigor. They also play an important role when crossed with other breeds.

I left the Wessel Farm all energized. It was early in the day, so I was invigorated to explore more of the Mineral Point area. I turned onto Hwy 23 to resume my travels and noticed a group of ladies hanging around outside the Wessel Farm’s barn. I parked the car at the side of the road and walked over to them. Before I knew it, three girls, Beatrice, Joyce, and Polly, gathered to see what I was doing. I loved it!

The largest Brown Swiss populations are in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa. They first came to the US in 1869.