Dairy breeds are all unique in their own way,each breed coming with its own rich history.
The Brown Swiss breed has a long and unique history as well. It is believed that the Brown Swiss breed is the oldest and purest dairy breed out there, with their origins dating back quite possibly to 4,000 B.C. Remains have been found of cows with the Swiss River people tribes that resemble the skeleton of the modern Brown Swiss cow.
The modern Swiss hails from the valleys and mountains of Switzerland, where their natural selection for strong, lasting feet and legs mad them ideal for trekking to mountain pastures. Swiss, more commonly know in Switzerland as Braunveih, the German word meaning “brown cow,” were originally a dual purposed cow but were selected into a dairy breed as people bred for higher milk yield.
Brown Swiss came to America in the winter of 1869, when Henry M. Clark of Bellmont, Mass. brought the first 7 cows and 1 bull to his farm by boat. the breed grew in popularity quickly, because of their ideal protein to fat ration for cheese making. Today there are approximately 7 million Swiss worldwide.
Not only are Swiss ideal for cheese making, they also have a benefit of longevity. Their feet and legs are naturally very strong and lasting, and they tend to stay in herds longer than many other breeds.
There are some very well-known names in the Swiss breed, like Jane of Vernon, a Swiss cow from Illinois that lived to be 16 years old and is considered the “Mother of the Breed.” Nearly all Swiss cows today can be traced back to her in some way.
Another name that probably everyone knows is Old-Mill E Snickerdoodle, 8 time Champion of World Dairy Expo, 2003 WDE Supreme Campion and 2008 and 2009 Reserve Supreme Champion. Snickerdoodle is bred and owned by Alan Bassler and family, and recently celebrated her 18th birthday. Snickerdoodle has retired from the show ring and the milk barn and is currently living out her retirement in sunny Florida.
Though the Brown Swiss breed is known for its extreme stubbornness, those who breed the cows love the friendly demeanor of the animals. And just as every breed does, these cows have their perks, and their faults; however, they are a very intriguing breed.