Brown Swiss cattle may have been around for many centuries, but records extend back only to the 19th century. It’s known that German cows were mixed with native Swiss animals in an attempt to increase the size of the native stock. It worked, and the resulting Brown Swiss breed became known for above-average size and strong legs, a necessity in the often rough and rocky Swiss terrain. Brown Swiss Cattle were first imported to the US in 1869, but by the early 1900s, disease had ended imports. About 160 cattle in all were imported, yet from that small number the US Brown Swiss population has grown into the tens of thousands today, as the animals are still valued for their cheese production.
Brown Swiss cattle are one of the most popular dairy breeds, especially in the United States, Russia, Germany, and Italy. Oddly the breed is not as popular in its namesake country.