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Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders host 126th gathering in Iowa
Iowa Correspondent

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Assoc. of America (BSCBAA) will host its 126th convention July 12-15 at the Holiday Inn in downtown Dubuque, Iowa, which is one of three states owning the nation’s largest concentration of the dairy breed.

“Iowa continues to be a major producer of milk products,” said Iowa House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp (R-Decorah), a former Iowa Brown Swiss Assoc. member who’s one of three keynote speakers, along with Molly Pelzer, director of school nutrition for the Midwest Dairy Assoc. in Tipton, Iowa and Trent Loos, a Nebraska farmer and agricultural activist.

“Brown Swiss have gained in popularity as milk marketing has emphasized milk solids along with increases in production capabilities,” Gipp said last week about some of the topics he, Pelzer and Loss will address next month.

Gipp, who has served in the Iowa House since 1990 and as Majority Leader since 2002, said BSWCAA convention organizers asked him to speak next month because they wanted someone with a Brown Swiss background that could voice the industry’s goals.

“Since I have served in the Iowa House of Representatives since 1990 – the last four as Majority Leader, I qualified,” he said.

Gipp said he plans to speak about the challenges facing agricultural in a world where “the gap between the producers of food and the consumers of food have never been wider.”

Although Gipp’s family dairy business was started in 1941 by his father, Alvin, who immigrated from Germany in the late 1880s, Gipp previously owned A-G Swiss Farms, Inc., which he later founded as a Brown Swiss dairy operation in 1971, along with three of his five brothers, until the 250-head farm was dispersed in November 2004.

The Brown Swiss breed is one of the oldest dairy breeds in the world and originated in the valleys and mountain slopes of Switzerland before historic records began, the BSCBAA said. Today, many Brown Swiss can be found in Europe, with the largest concentration located in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa.

Founded in 1880, the BSCBAA started as a group of Brown Swiss breeders in Worcester, Mass. who established an official herd book for Brown Swiss cattle in the United States.

According to the association, from 1881 to 1942, a herd record book was published, listing all animals registered and transferred. Currently, an elaborate computer network stores and updates all registration information.

Headquartered in Beloit, Wis., the association said Brown Swiss registrations totaled 9,957 in 2001 and 5,056 cattle were transferred. In 2001, there were 942 active national members in the BSCBAA throughout the United States.

“Demand for registered Brown Swiss continues to soar as 977 people purchased their first Brown Swiss,” the BSCBAA said. “The jump in new Brown Swiss owners is a real testimonial to the nation-wide enthusiasm for Brown Swiss.”

The USDA said Brown Swiss cattle have made tremendous milk production increases over the last few years. In 2005, Brown Swiss milk production per cow increased 152 pounds – more than any other dairy breed, with the average 305-day ME pounds of milk production in the Brown Swiss breed at 21,127 (DHIR).

Milk producers throughout the world are adding Brown Swiss to their herds daily because of the good milk, protein and butter fat production, and “their correct feet and legs that allow them to stay in the milking herd for more lactations than many other breeds,” the BSCBAA added.

Bruce Telleen, the BSCBAA convention cochair in Monticello, Iowa, said Iowa has been one of the nation’s top dairy states for not only the registrations but also for the quality of Brown Swiss that Iowa breeders have continued to raise and exhibit at the national shows, which includes the World Dairy Expo.

“We also take pride that our Iowa herds continue to rank very high in milk production,” he said.

Pelzer said Iowa schools have worked with their milk processors to introduce the New Look of School Milk, which Pelzer will highlight at the convention.

“Schools that have adopted the New Look of School Milk report increased milk sales and consumption,” she said.

Twenty-five years ago, Iowa hosted the national convention in Des Moines and started the “FUN Sale,” which centers on dairy memorabilia.

Telleen said the first sale brought in $4,300 and has continued to grow. It has already raised in excess of $200,000, which is directed to youth programs. On Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., they will celebrate their 25th Anniversary FUN Sale.

The 126th Brown Swiss convention and trade show will also sponsor the Iowa Convention National Sale, which will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 15 at the Dubuque County Fairgrounds, featuring some of the nation’s deepest pedigreed Brown Swiss cattle, with over 70 head on the auction block.

Loos, who couldn’t be reached for comment, will speak at a banquet on Friday evening to encourage Brown Swiss producers to share their dairy stories.

For more information about the convention, contact Luanne Barber of the Iowa Brown Swiss Assoc. at 563-659-5356. The registration deadline for the convention is July 1.

This farm news was published in the June 28, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.