National Brown Swiss Convention Returns to Wisconsin

For the first time in over a decade, an international crowd gathered in Wisconsin last week to celebrate the Brown Swiss cattle breed. Josh Hushon is the assistant chair of the National Brown Swiss Convention and past president of the Wisconsin Brown Swiss Association. He says Wisconsin is the Brown Swiss Capital of the U.S.

“Wisconsin has more Brown Swiss than any other state, and if you’re asking me, I’m a little biased. I think we have the best Brown Swiss in the country as well, so the way that we’ll celebrate that is a couple of things. The first is that we’re going to give our youth a chance to show their animals to really a global audience because we have attendees coming from Switzerland, Italy, and South America, so they’ll have a chance to show off the hard work that they’re doing with their cattle to a global audience and get feedback and compete with their peers to see where they’re at. The second thing that we’ll do then is to visit some local farms. So, we’ve got three farms that we’ll take tours to.”

The convention included a consignment sale on Saturday. He says Brown Swiss cattle are known for a couple of outstanding characteristics.

“The first thing that they’re known for is milk that converts very easily into cheese, so that’s high protein milk, that’s high-fat milk, and that’s honestly why it got started as a breed in Wisconsin, because of the Swiss cheese makers that came over. They settled in Green County and then spread from there throughout Wisconsin. So, the breed itself has increased in production of pounds of milk while maintaining very high component levels of protein and cheese. I would say the second reason is because they are very functional cattle in terms of their feet and legs. They’re very mobile. They don’t have a lot of injuries from that same point. And they’re pretty heat tolerant as well.”

People may be surprised at how popular the Brown Swiss breed is around the world.

“As a breed, it’s not the largest breed in the U.S. by any means. The black and white Holsteins, as all of your listeners know, are way more popular, but globally, they are about eight million Brown Swiss, and they’re more popular than any other breed around the world.”

The convention was July 3-6 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.