A Look into Farming in Switzerland

by Hu Team on May 2, 2014

In Switzerland we have a of total 1051063ha  of agricultural acreage. The crops grown are grass, vegetables, fruit plants or viticulture. There most commonly farmed animals are dairy cows, beef, sheep, goats, chickens and swine.

There  are 2 main farming zones within Switzerland ; the valley zone and the mountain zone.  The valley zone has many large farms; some animal farms and some crop farms.  The farmers in this zone have large barns, machinery and many hectares of land.

There is also a mountain zone. The farmers here are doing the most of their work by hand. They are not able to use machines to do their work because of the mountainous terrain.  In the summer time the animals in the mountain zone are sometime pastured as high as 2000m above sea level.

PicMonkey Collage

Each farmer is trying to find the optimum for his farm and himself. That’s why there are many varying types and methods of farming in Switzerland.

We have red and black holsteins.  The farms with dairy cows are mostly in the valley zone. The production per cow is quite high in Switzerland.   Most of  bulls being used are coming from  USA, Canada, Germany or Italy. Once in a while there is a good bull from Switzerland, but it is rare.

Then we have the Simmentaler and Swiss Fleckvieh cows. These cows are a dual purpose milk and meat breed.  These 2 breeds of cows live mostly in the mountain zones.  They do not require much grain to keep body condition and make milk. Most of the bulls used for these 2 breeds are from Switzerland, and there is a small export market for semen from these bulls.

In the Eastern part of Switzerland there are some Brown Swiss farms.  The Brown Swiss are also being used for milk and meat.

Jerseys are becoming more popular all the time.  They are liked for their high fat content in milk and their efficiency to convert food to energy/milk.  Also some farmers have old barns which Holsteins are becoming too big to fit in so the smaller Jersey breed fits perfectly.

Every Year in January is the Swiss Expo. The Holstein show is the 3rd biggest in the world.   The are cows from all over Switzerland,  and also neighoburing countries.  The entries are growing  every year. It is not an easy show to win a class.  You need to put in lots of time at home before the show, training, clipping, hoof trimming…everything must be perfect !  Showing is a lot of work but also fun.  You see friends, meet new people, learn and see the first heifers from new bulls.

The milk price is 67 cents per litre, plus additional payment for fat and protein content.  The price you are paid also can depend on which company you sell your milk to and what it is being used for.  You make more money if you sell you milk to a cheese company.

Life as a farmer is not easy in Switzerland. It is a hard full time job. But when you love it…then it is your dream job !

Bio of Sabine Jordi

Sabine is 27 years old who lives and works on parents farm in Thierachern.  Which is 30 min from Bren, the capitol of Switzerland. Their farm consists of 75 milking cows (Red & Black Holsteins), small sheep herd and 2 horses.   They have 67 ha of land used for corn, winter wheat, pasture and composting. Sabine is currently work full time on the farm and doing school courses to further her education. In her spare time, Sabine enjoys her friends or going to cattle shows; sometimes as an exhibitor, sometimes as an audience member.  Actively in her farm they are currently using the bulls Destry, Sid, Hitman, Armani, Attitude and Galba.

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