What is a Braunvieh?

Braunvieh is not a crossbreed or a composite but, instead, may be one of the oldest pure beef breeds in the world. Braunvieh was originally developed in the scenic Swiss Alps, but will adapt and will perform in literally any environment. Braunvieh can be found in over 60 countries from the Tropics to the Arctic Circle.

Their genetically branded feature - a white band around the muzzle, makes Braunvieh cattle very recognizable. Braunvieh are typically brown in color as these pictures indicate.

Many cattle refer to Braunvieh as Brown Swiss and want to know the difference between the two. Brown Swiss dairy cattle were in fact developed from the Braunvieh beef cattle. Braunvieh was an extremely good milking beef breed and, many years ago, some animal breeders selected the best milking Braunvieh and began breeding these selected individuals for milk production. After many generations the dairy type was developed, and thus the Brown Swiss dairy cattle, while related to Braunvieh beef cattle, are vastly different in type, structure and function.

More Profit, Not Potential - with:
  • Increased Fertility
  • More Live Calves
  • Milk and Maternal Excellence
  • More Pounds to Sell
  • Unequaled Feedlot & Carcass Traits
  • Environmental Adaptability
  • Moderate Size with Muscle
  • Convenience Traits

Fullblood, Purebred or Composite/Hybrid

A Fullblood Braunvieh is so designated because every animal in its pedigree traces back to Braunvieh cattle that originated from the Switzerland Original Braunvieh. Fullblood Braunvieh are always brown in color.

Purebred Braunvieh are those animals that have been bred-up to purebred status as a result of using fullblood Braunvieh to cross with an animal of another breed. Purebred Braunvieh females must be 87.5 percent or more Braunvieh genetics and males 93.75 percent or more Braunvieh genetics. Purebred Braunvieh colors vary and can include brown, black and tiger stripe or various shades thereof, depending on the breed from which the purebred was originally started. Percentage Braunvieh are those animals with less than 87.5 percent Braunvieh genetics for females and less that 93.75 percent Braunvieh genetics for males. Many producers, both registered and commercial, use percentage Braunvieh or composite animals as both sire and dam produce F2 composites.

Horned or Polled

Fullblood or purebred Braunvieh can be horned or polled. Fullblood Braunvieh are almost always horned, except when a genetic mutation takes place where a polled animal is produced from the mating of two horned animals.

The polled gene is dominant to the horned gene and thus breeders are able to propagate animals expressing the polled factor.

Purebred Braunvieh can be either horned or polled. Many breeders have bred up to purebred status using polled animals as the originating animals crossed with fullblood Braunvieh. Following breeder's original cross with polled animals, many breeders selected and saved only polled animals for their breeding program. The result is that there is now a sizable number of both homozygous and heterozygous polled Braunvieh available.

Braunvieh - Fertility - More Live Calves

To the commercial cattleperson, herd fertility is the most important profit potential production trait. A high percentage calf crop is essential in today's beef industry for any cow/calf operation to have the opportunity to show a profit. Research has shown that on a commercial basis, herd fertility is at least five times more important that the growth traits for herd profitability.

Braunvieh bulls are noted for their scrotal and testicular development at a young age and are capable, fertile breeders at 12 to 14 months of age. "Four thousand Red Angus cows exposed to Braunvieh bulls the past four years average 7 percent higher conception rate than the average of the other herds exposed to bulls of other breeds." said Tom Woodward, manager of Broseco Ranches, Omaha, Texas. Broseco Ranches operate in northeast Texas and run a total of about 6,000 mother cows.

Another documented example of Braunvieh fertility comes from Texas A&M Research Center, Uvalde, Texas, where, as part of a research project, the center turned out five Braunvieh bulls and five bulls of another heat-tolerant breed with 266 crossbred cows. When the calves were DNA verified to their sire breed, the Research center found that 68% of the calves were Braunvieh-sired.

Braunvieh and Braunvieh cross females are sexually mature at a young age. At the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), Clay Center, Nebraska, it was shown that the average age of puberty for Braunvieh cross heifers was 332 days and the percent of Braunvieh cross heifers pregnant at 550 days was 93%. These figures are graphed to illustrate a comparison for the Braunvieh cross females versus the other breed crosses in this MARC study.

Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross females cycle and are fertile at a very young age. So fertile, in fact, that some breeders routinely give their Braunvieh-sired heifer calves Lutalyse at weaning.

Braunvieh genetics in a crossbreeding program can provide Hybrid Vigor at the following rates:

  • Increased Fertility: 10 to 15%
  • Increased Calf Survival: 10 to 15%

web graph 1a

web graph 2a

commercial crop

Picture of ½ Braunveih ½ Angus heifer calf

Milk & Maternal Excellence...

Maternal excellence can be described in many ways; however, most cattlepeople associate maternal excellence with cows that:

  • Calve unassisted on a regular basis, producing a calf every 365 days
  • Convert forage to milk, provided through a sound udder and teats in sufficient quantity to produce a heavy, vigorous calf at weaning.

Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross females are excellent mother cows. They have an inherent ability to rebreed regularly, combined with their sound udder attachment and small, well placed teats that provide ample milk to their calves over the 200 to 250-day nursing period. This maternal ability results in sound, heavy calves at weaning.

Further data from the US Meat Animal Research Center shows why Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross females make such good mothers. The date reveals that they rebreed and calve on a regular basis and milk sufficiently to produce heavy calves at weaning.

Once more, putting Braunvieh genetics in your crossbreeding program can provide Hybrid Vigor at the following rates:

  • Increased growth of crossbred calves: 4 to 11%
  • Increased weaning weight due to more milk: 4 to 11%

web graph 3a2

More Pounds to Sell

Braunvieh genetics in a commercial cow/calf operation continue to make positive input towards profitability for those firms incorporating Braunvieh in their program.

The superiority of Braunvieh genetics for producing more pounds of marketable weight was first verified at the US Meat Animal Research Center where Braunvieh-cross females produced 4% more calf weight per cow exposed than their nearest competing breed cross.

Braunvieh-cross females produced 5% more weaning weight than the traditional Hereford-Angus cross females and from 4% to 11% more weaning weight than any other Continental cross females. Economically, any commercial cow-calf operator that can increase the pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed by 4 to 11% has a tremendous economic opportunity to increase the herd's profit potential. By combining this calf weight-per-cow-exposed advantage with the 7% increase in conception rate from the use of Braunvieh bulls, the economic advantage for using Braunvieh genetics becomes significant. The following chart shows Braunvieh's advantage for calf 200-day weight per cow exposed.

Moderate Size with Muscle

Braunvieh cows will typically weigh 1,100 to 1,500 pounds and mature bulls 1,800 to 2,500 pounds. While moderate in size and frame, Braunvieh females and bulls will pass on their muscle, superior quality grade, growth rate and efficient feed conversion to their progeny. The cost of gain for Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross cattle is comparable to, or less than, all other breeds and, because they are of moderate size and have the inherent ability to grade choice, Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross cattle can be harvested from a feedlot situation at a live weight that eliminates days on feed other Continental breeds take to reach marketable condition.

From south Texas to the high plains of the Dakotas, Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross cattle have proven their superior genetics for all segments of the industry.

web graph 4a

Environmental Adaptability

Braunvieh cattle thrive from the tropical regions of northern South America to the cold climates of Canada. Due to the breed's high performance and universal adaptability, Braunvieh are found in over 60 countries worldwide.

Braunvieh genetics have been especially valuable in their use with Bos Indicus herds. Most beef alliance programs accept no more than 25% Bos Indicus breeding in their feeding programs. Braunvieh-Bos Indicus brood cows bred to a Braunvieh bull or a bull of another breed meet this requirement. This cross has proven their worth for heat tolerance while producing the high quality, high yielding animals that fit the alliance specs and the end consumer market.

Braunvieh-Bos Indicus halfblood females are also excellent mother cows who mature at a young age and are very fertile. What better complement to your Bos Indicus bloodlines than a shot of Braunvieh with added muscle, milk and marbling, plus a bonus of heat tolerance. These are the kind of cattle to make you extra dollars in your beef alliance program.

Unequaled Feedlot and Carcass Traits

What is "Value-Based Marketing?"

Value-based marketing for today's cattle producer means they are paid on the merits of their cattle's feedlot and carcass performance. It is estimated that 20 grocery store chains control over 50% of today's total beef market. This large proportion of the beef market has given rise to numerous consumer-based beef alliances that market cattle through some form of grid or formula structure.

Almost all alliances have set specifications with regard to one, or all, of the following: breed or breed crosses, carcass quality grade, and/or carcass yield grade. Market alliances base their price paid for cattle on the value-based marketing system. The better the carcasses, the higher the price.

Cattle not marketed through a value-based marketing system are marketed as commodity beef. Commodity beef is the method in which most average or below cattle are sold and, in almost every case, the average price paid for commodity beef is less than the average price paid for beef carcasses that meet a value-based alliance or grid formula.

Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross cattle have, in recent years, been recognized for their outstanding feedlot performance and superior carcass characteristics producing carcasses with a high quality grade and low yield grade. This recognition continues today. Of all the Continental breeds, Braunvieh is the only one that has marbling ability to go along with its muscle. R.A."Bob" Long states in the March 2003 Angus Journal (page 108) "The degree of muscling does not determine the amount of marbling. For example, the Braunvieh is at least one Continental breed that is heavily muscled yet marbles very well, while Hereford cattle have a marbling problem and are not very heavily muscled." Dating back to the early 1900's, there are numerous producer testimonials, in addition to independent test statistics, as to Braunvieh's unequalled feedlot performance and carcass superiority.

In 1998, Virgil Boll, Utopia, Texas, placed 7,00 head of steers and heifers on feed. Of the 7,400 head, 8%, or 611 head, were Braunvieh-influenced. The 8% that were Braunvieh-influenced, however, accounted for almost half (48%) of Boll's cattle feeding profit (before interest) for the year.

In 2000 and 2001, Robert Gray Farms, Kremlin, Oklahoma, fed 298 Braunvieh-sired steers and heifers at McLean Feedyards, McLean, Texas. When harvested through B3R Country Meats, Childress, Texas, these 298 head of Braunvieh-sired cattle graded 94% choice and 88% yield grades 1 and 2. From these 298 Braunvieh-sired cattle, Robert Gray Farms received a total of $26,731 ($89.70/head) premium over commodity beef.

web graph 5a

Braunvieh Garner Awards at Great Western Beef Expo

Braunvieh and Braunvieh-crosses' ability to grade choice or higher with desirable yield grades of 1 or 2 is clearly demonstrated from results of the Great Western Beef Expo, Sterling, Colorado. Since 1990, Braunvieh-sired carcasses have been awarded 13 Max Fulscher Awards. The Max Fulscher Award is given to those pens of five that are 100% choice quality grade or better, and 100% yield grade 2 or better. Braunvieh-sired pens hold 36% of the Max Fulscher Awards given during the time period 1990 to 2003. This is more than twice as many Max Fulscher Awards than its nearest breed competitor. Braunvieh-sired pens have more that two times the Max Fulscher Awards as the Angus-sired pens.. The graph above illustrates the recipients and the number of Max Fulscher Awards presented from 1990 through the year 2003.

Braunvieh-influenced cattle have proven, and continue to prove, that they produce carcasses with very desirable quality grade and yield grade. These are the kind of carcasses that today's beef industry demands, with such carcasses meeting and surpassing most value-based alliance beef marketing programs. Braunvieh genetics can truly produce cattle with added value.

Keep in mind that there is little, or no, hybrid vigor or heterosis associated with beef carcass traits. This means Braunvieh genetics have the inherent and bred-in ability to produce cattle with desirable carcasses. One cross with Braunvieh can move a herd of commodity beef producers to an alliance sought-after product.

web graph 6a

Convenience Traits

Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross cattle can be the cow/calf person's best friend. The dark pigmentation of the eyes and area around the eyes nearly eliminates the worry about pinkeye. Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross females not only have exceptional udder attachment and small, well-placed teats, but the udders and teats are darkly pigmented, eliminating the need for the cow/calf producer to worry about sun burned and/or snow burned udders.

Braunvieh cattle are known for their docile temperament and ease of handling. While there are occasions of a Braunvieh being a little nervous, breeders of Braunvieh have been eliminating these animals from their breeding programs whenever they are identified. Thus, a temperamental Braunvieh is almost non-existent today.

Braunvieh females are well known for their staying ability and they remain productive well into their teens, many as long as 20 years of age or more. Such longevity helps eliminated some of the high cost of developing and producing heifer replacements.

Many of the convenience traits are hard to measure economically, but they certainly do contribute towards the ease and safety of production for the cow/calf producer.

There is NO Single Best Breed...

Every breed and breed cross has its strong points. Braunvieh's strength in milk, muscle, marbling and fertility is indisputable. While different breeds might edge Braunvieh out in certain individual traits, Braunvieh and Braunvieh-cross cattle do not fall out of bed for any one production trait for which they have been evaluated. Consider Braunvieh's performance across all production traits, from conception to consumer, and you will find that Braunvieh genetics will add profit to your bottom line.

Boost Your Bottom Line With Braunvieh !

* Thank you to the Braunvieh Association of America for providing the Source Data and Breed Information on this web page.