Building a Future While Remembering Our Roots How the Braunvieh Breed Has Developed, Benefiting Both Purebred and Commercial Producers

By Kelsey Pope, Contributing Writer

Not a crossbreed or a new breed, Braun vieh has most certainly paved its own path as a cattle breed, maybe even being the oldest, pure breed on Earth, with records dating back to 800 B.C. Originating in Switzerland, Braun vieh cattle have been exported to Mexico, Canada and throughout the world in the last 200 years. Original Swiss Braunvieh were imported into the United States from Switzerland in 1983 by Harlan Doeschot, Golden Link Braunvieh, Firth, Neb. Some U.S. breeders imported Braunvieh from Canada in the late 1960s and again in the early 1980s the same time as Doeschot. Doeschot was a Simmental breeder, and he was in Switzerland looking for new Simmental genetics when he was introduced to Braunvieh cattle. Using a system of linear measurements to identify balance in cattle, Doeschot looked at the Braunviehs and real ized they were moderate sized with excellent fertility and longevity. Just a year later, in 1984, the Braunvieh Association of America (BAA) was organized and incorporated in the United States.

Stock Show in Denver, Colo. Today, he owns and operates Rock Creek Braunvieh in south central Nebraska near Fairbury. “I started breeding the Braunvieh bulls to Angus-based cows,” Schlake says. “When I started selling bulls to commercial customers, the polled bulls sold first.” By breeding to An gus-based cattle, Schlake developed the first black polled Braunvieh. Bob and Marilyn Brink own and operate Brink Livestock near Pied mont, Kan. Bob first saw Braunvieh cattle in the 1970s during a college field trip to the Meat Animal Re search Center in Clay Center, Neb., where they were conducting germ plasm evaluation. “They were government owned at the time and I didn’t think I could ever own them,” Bob recalls. “But 10 years later, they started selling these females and I bought every Braun vieh female in the sale.” Bob incorporated them into his commercial, Hereford-based cow herd with great results. Later, he and Marilyn began purchasing purebred Braunvieh from around the country. “Buying genetics from breeders around the country really gave us a broad cross-section base of the breed to start with, which was important to us,” Bob says. Ron and Teri McBee, McBee Cattle Company, Fayette, Mo., began look ing at the Braunvieh breed in 1990 because they were looking for a breed that would add milk to their commer cial cow herd.

“I looked through Matt Alexander’s cow herd, who raised Braunvieh for a long time, and I just liked every halfblood female that I saw,” Ron McBee recalls, “Before we bought any Braunvieh cattle, we probably looked at nearly 600 females and liked every one of them, so we knew right away they were a pretty maternal breed.” McBee wasn’t as keen on the Braunvieh bulls at first. But he knew that if he wanted to raise females like he saw, he was going to have to use them, and he did. “It didn’t take us long to figure it out on a couple of hundred com mercial cows that Braunvieh bulls improved almost every calf, so we kept every heifer that was feasible to keep,” McBee says. “We also bought 21 halfblood heifers from Ron Fran ken, who’s been in the Braunvieh business a lot longer than we have. We knew we had found something that would not only advance our herd, but the whole industry.” Schlake, the Brinks and the McBees are just some of the breeders who saw a vision for Braunvieh cattle in the early years. Many Braunvieh producers have since imported cattle from Canada, as well as imported original Braunvieh from Europe in the form of frozen embryos. A Dual-Purpose Breed Still Benefiting Today’s Producers Original Braunvieh were a dual purpose breed in Switzerland, raised Continued on page 10

Building Up the Braunvieh Breed Kendall Schlake, Doeschot’s

son-in-law, began working the first halfblood females on shares with his father-in-law in 1985. They displayed the first Braunvieh from Switzerland in 1985 at the National Western


Braunvieh World  Winter 2023

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