Braunvieh Cattle Put It All Together
Published on Thu, 08/01/2019 - 10:49am
Braunvieh Cattle Put It All Together.
Article by Steve Weisman.
Beef producers are always looking to strengthen their herd, always looking for a better animal that will improve their bottom line. That’s exactly what Harlan Doeschot of Firth, NE was looking for when he traveled to Switzerland in 1983 looking for Simmental cattle to import. Instead, he found the Swiss Braunvieh and came away so impressed by their uniformity and reproductive efficiency that he imported nine Braunvieh bulls and five Braunvieh females back to his Nebraska ranch. Within a year, cattle producers who saw the virtues of the Braunvieh breed, organized the Braunvieh Association of America ("https://braunvieh.org/).
Since that time, the Braunvieh breed has continued to expand across the United States. Doeschot’s son-in-law Kendall Schlake owns Rock Creek Braunvieh located in southcentral Nebraska and has been breeding Braunvieh cattle since 1985. ”We were one of the first Braunvieh breeders to develop black and polled Braunvieh cattle, and today those genetics have made a significant impact on the breed. Some very influential bloodlines in the breed have the Rock Creek Braunvieh genetics in their pedigree.”
Over the last 34 years, Schlake has watched the Braunvieh breed continue to grow as more and more cattle producers have learned the positive qualities of the breed and the fact that the Braunvieh put it all together: maternal qualities, muscling, marbling and performance (efficiency).
Simply put, Braunvieh cows give birth to well-muscled calves, provide excellent quality milk and raise offspring with higher weaning weight. At the same time, Braunvieh marble well with superior cutability without the fat, and their feed efficiency is excellent converting pasture to meat. When it comes to feed efficiency, producers find that Braunvieh make the most of what they eat. In other words, they do more with less.
Body weights range from 1,100 to 1,500 pounds for adult females and 2,000 to 2,500 pounds for adult males. Steers at optimum slaughter weight are 1,300 pounds at 13 months of age and have a wider marketing window due to lower external fat deposition.
Data collected by the Braunvieh Association of America shows that sired steers have consistently hung up top carcasses all around the country including renowned steer test like The Great Western Beef Expo, Sterling, Colorado, Beef Empire Days, Garden City, KS, and Texas A&M Ranch to Rail program.
Schlake says, “One of the real keys with Braunvieh is their adaptability. They adjust to weather extremes, so they fit well in both cold and hot climates. As a result, you’ll see Braunvieh herds in the gulf areas and Mexico and all the way north into Canada.” According to the Braunvieh Association of America, today, roughly 40 percent of the cattle in Switzerland are Braunvieh, and they have spread throughout the world. Due to their high performance and adaptability, Braunvieh are used in all major countries of the world. Braunvieh are found in over 60 countries extending from the Arctic Circle to the tropics at altitudes varying between 0 and 12,500 feet. World population of Braunvieh is over 7,000,000 head. Herdbooks are being kept by breeders' associations in 42 countries.
“Part of their adaptability has to do with their hair that is sleek and fine in warm weather and dense and heavy when in existing in cold weather climates. In the past 10 years, there has been a lot of growth in Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois,” adds Schlake.
Commercial producers really like cross breeding as a marketing tool, and Braunvieh bulls are known in the industry for their vigor, efficiency, consistent yields and longevity. The Braunvieh female is known for her milking and mothering abilities. With the cross, producers are seeing higher yield and quality grades.
The importance of data
Art Brownlee is in full agreement with what Schlake says. He and his wife Merry have owned JHL Ranch, located in the Nebraska Sandhills near Ashby, NE., since 1995, while the family itself has run cattle in the Sandhills since 1885.
Originally, their herd was comprised of many different breeds, including Angus, Gelbvieh and Limousin. However, after seeing Branvieh cattle and the results of their breeding genetics, Art and Merry began introducing Braunvieh. In 2009, they had the opportunity to purchase some of Harlan Doeschot’s purebred herd and have kept it purebred. Today, their 1,400-head cattle operation includes fullblood and percentage Braunvieh cows along with commercial cattle, which average 50 percent Braunvieh genetics.
Art says, “We dipped our toe in and liked what we saw. I left the corporate world where there was all kinds of data, and I wanted to be able to collect and use data with our cattle to find out how our genetics were doing. The Branvieh breed offers a lot of this data. We worked with our packers, and they sent back harvest data: carcass weight, marbling and yield grade.”
This information helped JHL analyze herd genetics and to tweak and improve what they were already doing. “We have years and years of data, and our daughter-in-law took all our years of data and put it into a data base format so we could see our history across the years and the direction our breeding was going. This enables us to tweak our breeding for the next year.”
This attention to genetic data helped JHL Ranch earn the 2006 Cargill Meat Solutions Award in the packer industry for the highest overall quality cattle entering the plant. Data shows that there has been an increase in the number of carcasses with better yield grades. Other awards include the 2007 Braunvieh Association of America Commercial Producer Award, the 2007 Beef Improvement Federation Commercial Producer Roll of Excellence and the 2008 Beef Improvement Federation Commercial Producer of the Year.
Art reflects on the qualities of the Branvieh breed. “The Branvieh competes extremely well with everything on the place. The Branvieh bulls produce consistency and marbling quality across the board.” From muscling and less fat, to longevity and the soundness of their feet, legs and udders, the Branvieh breed leads the way.
Watch the success stories
The American Rancher, which is produced by Superior Productions and broadcast on RFD-TV, DISH 231 and DirecTV-345, is a half hour television series that shares the stories of the men and women who contribute to the beef industry in America. You can google American Rancher-Branvieh breed and find several past shows.