Most dairy historians agree that Brown Swiss cattle are the oldest of all dairy breeds. The beautiful brown cows were developed in the north eastern part of Switzerland. Bones found in the ruins of Swiss lake dwellers date back to probably 4000 BC, and have some resemblance to the skeleton of today’s Brown Swiss cow.
The world population of Brown Swiss cattle is reported to be approximately 7 million, which ranks either first or second in world wide population of dairy cattle.
The milk of the Brown Swiss cow is coveted by cheese makers. The volume of milk plus the protein produced by Brown Swiss makes the best milk for the fluid and cheese markets. Brown Swiss breeders benefit from the best fat-to-protein ratio of any of the dairy breeds for production of most cheeses.
Throughout the world Brown Swiss cattle are noted for their dairy strength, and outstanding feet and legs. Strength and good feet and legs are the foundation of the breed’s longevity and world-wide popularity. Brown Swiss cattle enjoy a reputation for their longevity, and ability to produce large volumes of milk and reproduce longer than cattle of other breeds.
The Brown Swiss Cattle Breed in Australia.
The Brown Swiss Cattle were first introduced into Australia in 1974 via semen imports from Canada. The first herd as far as we know to introduce Brown Swiss Blood was at the historic Camden Park Estates in New South Wales, which was also home to the famous original merino sheep flock of the MacArthur family. Apparently at the same time semen was being imported into South Australia; this information was brought to light once an Australian National Association was formed.
The then livestock manager of Camden Park Estates was Mr Richard Brown who introduced Brown Swiss to the small herd of Jerseys in a predominantly Guernsey Herd totalling around 4000 head of dairy cattle. The eleven heifers born from these matings became the 1st animals of Brown Swiss blood to be officially registered in Australia.
Richard had been to Europe, Canada and America where he worked for a number of years. He was so impressed by the Brown Cattle that he saw on those continents that on his return to Australia he decided to investigate the possibility of importing semen from Brown Swiss Bulls. He was convinced that the breed would be of benefit to the Australian Dairy Livestock Industry. The popularity of the breed now is a testament to that conviction.
Together with Geoff Kirton and Jim Conroy, both importers of livestock semen they set about the business of finding suitable bulls to import. The only bulls available had to come in through Canada and the first bull that came into the country was called “Aarons Champ of Vulcan”. Semen from “Great Beauty”, “Byers Bay Roxannes Royalty”, Welcome In Nabob”, “Welcome In Tex” , “Welcome In Stretch” and “Regina Grove Stan” was also imported in due course.
These bulls formed the basis of the original herds of Brown Swiss in Australia today. To date, bulls from the US have been the greatest influence on the Australian Brown Swiss Population.
During the early 80’s when imports became more readily accessible, semen from the bull “Narrows Valley High Del” was imported. He was the first truly dairy style bull that we were able to use here and many of his descendants are with us today. He left more dairy style cattle and this caught the eye of dairy farmers in all the states of Australia. His influence created a quick lift in Brown Swiss Production levels in Australia.
After Narrows Valley Hi Del, came R Hart Star Elevator, Forest Lawn Tradition, R Hart TC Denmark, these four bulls form the largest number of daughters in Australia during the 1980’s and 90’s. Many other bulls including Dollmaker, Old Hickory Happy Dancer & Ka Wa Westley were also used and became part of the base of our Brown Swiss.
There was also a limited number of live imports during the 1980’s. All the imported females came into Australia via Canada. Importers included the Underhill Family, the Bennie family, the Wake family, and the Silk family.
These cattle were derived from the “Dun Rovin Acres”, “Terra Nova” and “Edenridge” Farms. These females had an enormous impact on the breed’s presence in this country. Now, we had Full Blood Brown Swiss Cattle to show to the industry.
One of the most famous cow families in Australia is the Sarajevo family.
In 1989, embryo were imported into Australia from Canada out of Terra Nova Sarajevo Ex94. These animals formed the basis of the family here today. Perhaps the most widely known of these was “Kameruka Sarajevo 2nd 2 Ex 90” She was sired by Top Acres Snow Pro, and she was flushed to such bulls as Johann Pete Rose, Collection, and Forest Lawn Tradition. She had a number of natural born calves as well and she lived to the age of 13years. There are hundreds of her descendents throughout all states of Australia. She has a Great Grand son in AI by Pronto out of a grand daughter who is by Prophet. She became famous as the only cow of any breed to be Champion cow at three Royal Shows in the one year and all in the one lactation.
A grand daughter of Terra Nova Sarajevo, from Kameruka Proud Sarajevo had a son by Prophet in AI in Canada and Australia. This bull was the top ranking bull in Australia on APR for some time. This bull, Tandara Sonic, was bred by Bill and Judy Govett at Dingee, Victoria.
The majority of Brown Swiss Cattle in Australia have been graded up from other dairy breeds, the most popular being the Jersey and the Holstein Friesian. Towards the end of the 1980’s importation of frozen embryos became popular, Johann Acres from the US being amongst the forerunners in exporting embryos to Australia.
2005 saw a Brown Swiss cow “Yarraleigh Ellie VG 86” produce in excess of 13,000 litres milk, she is a descendent of a fully imported embryo from the USA – Johann Lovely Lola. Ellie is sired by R Hart Star Elevator and is out of a Trout Run Distinct Blend cow who was out of Johann Lovely Lola. Another Lola was a previous production holder, Tandara Lola she is sired by VB Spices Sensation. A number of young cattle are now producing in excess of 10,000 – 11,000 litres per 305 day lactation.
Importation of embryos is routine and we are now able to access some of the best genetics available. The majority of embryos imported into Australia are coming from the US.
The demand for young bulls in Australia is increasing. Australian Registered Breeders are having difficulty keeping up supply to demand.
Our registered cattle pool is still relatively small with about 17,000 cattle having been registered since the Association’s inception. Most of these cattle are derived from American bloodlines.
With the relaxation of import rules and strict testing regimes for disease we now have access to genetics from the German, Italian, Swiss and French population of Brown Swiss Cattle as well as the many bulls we have been using from the United States.