Visitors to Zermatt this summer may have noticed a group of 25 locals eating on the mountain at Riffelalp.
To be fair, grazing is probably more accurate than ‘eating’ as these locals are cows, brought to these meadows this summer by a new company, keen to maintain traditional Valais alpine practices in Zermatt.
“What we aim to is uphold the traditional Valais culture of Alpine farming,” said the founder of the new group, Paul Julen from Tradition Julen, already the largest sheep breeder in Zermatt.
Four different breeds
The newly founded Riffelalp Alpine Farming corporation has cows from four different breeds in its herd. These include Simmental (light brown and white), Evolèner (brown and white), original brown cows (light brown to beige) and the famous Eringer breed (dark reddish brown to black).
The Eringer are known as fighting cows – a long standing tradition in the Valais.
15 years since cows last grazed on Riffelalp
It’s been 15 years since cows last grazed at Riffelalp and the new venture has support from the Zermatt civil community, the Horu Käserei and other Zermatt families as well as Tradition Julen.
Roland Ammann has been appointed herdsman for the cows on Riffelalp. He already works within Tradition Julen.
The cows and steers are ‘galt’, which in the local dialect means that that they do not produce milk and in early autumn they will be slaughtered and their meat will then be used to make the traditional Valais dried beef.