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The fall and rise of Swiss Braunvieh Breeding

Just 20 years ago, over half of the genetic material for the breeding of Braunvieh cattle was imported – primarily from North America – despite the fact that Switzerland is the genetic centre for Braunvieh. Today, however, the self-sufficiency level for Braunvieh breeding material is just shy of 100 %, and Switzerland has even become a net exporter of this breed. The reasons for this positive development are traced in this paper. Two factors stand out here: on the one hand, the increasing deregulation of reproduction is of prime importance. A government-instituted monopoly was abolished; now, any animal may be offered and used for reproduction. On the other hand, however, government-sponsored herdbook keeping and the targeted provision of animal-specific information on milk and meat production as well as on health status provide an informational base allowing farmers to make a qualified selection of genetic material. This combination of liberalisation and government-sponsored information seems to be good for a competitive breeding sector.

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