Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brown Swiss

WIKIPEDIA: Famous Brown Swiss:
Hoosier Knoll Jade Monay Set a new bench mark for udder quality when she won Supreme Champion in 1994. When she was classified, the udder was scored E-96 which is still one of the highest scores ever obtained for udder quality by a Brown Swiss. Recently Monay was awarded the distinction of being the All Time All-American 3 Year Old for the Swiss Breed.
Old Mill E Snickerdoodle is considered by many as one of the best Brown Swiss to ever walk across the show ring. She was undefeated from her first show in 2003 up until the World Dairy Expo in 2007. She currently sets a record across all breeds for most consecutively won classes at Harrisburg and the World Dairy Expo.
Jane of Vernon "Almost all Brown Swiss today trace to this magnificent cow who lived from 1929 to 1945. She garnered Grand Champion honors at national Brown Swiss shows in 1932, 1933, 1934, and 1936. Jane of Vernon was bred by the late Orbec Sherry of Viroqua, Wisconsin."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Though the title of this photograph nods toward Kuener Farm and Andrew Wyeth's painting of the same name, the scene has shifted from Chadds Ford to Twin Elm Farm in the Oblong. Beyond sharing a common title, this image has nothing in common with Wyeth's painting.

The main herd at Twin Elm are beef cattle. They roam most of the hillside above the barns and cover considerable territory. They are a mix of breeds including some Brown Swiss. When I'm in the fields with them they are a curious bunch who will watch me closely and then walk over to see who's trespassing in their pastures, and sometimes when I'm out there taking pictures, they'll sneak up on me, and I won't know they're there until I feel one breathing behind me. When I turn, however, they jump away. I take comfort in knowing they are more afraid of me than I of them... not too much comfort.

This photo, however, is of one of the dairy ladies. There's only a handful of them (What a concept! They can easily weigh a ton each.) They are all Brown Swiss, and their personalities are entirely different. They'll stand and watch me with their sad, brown eyes and their large, furry ears, and when I walk toward them, they'll let me pat their necks. They are slow, gentle giants. Brown Swiss have a reputation for their sweet disposition and docile nature. It is well earned. Even among the beef herd, the Brown Swiss steers, although the largest animals in the herd, are the least threatening.

Then again, all cows spend 6 hours a day eating and eight hours a day chewing cud, but I was warned that some of the bulls may not have been properly castrated.

For more on these cows visit: Autumn Cow in Retrospect