Cow fights

The Herens is a traditional breed of cattle from Valais, whose cows are famous for their sense of hierarchy and correspondingly feisty temperament: they frequently lock horns. A black coat, muscular body and relatively short legs give them a distinctive and graceful appearance. Following their natural instincts, the Herens cows establish a hierarchy within the herd when they ascend to the high pastures in spring. The leader must assert herself throughout the summer if she is to descend from the alpine pastures in autumn as the crowned “queen”. This characteristic of the breed has given rise to the tradition of organised cow fights throughout the canton, which attract numerous cattle breeders and spectators. Divided into categories by age and weight, the cows seek out their opponents in the ring. Those that lose a combat or turn tail drop out of the contest; wellbeing of the animals is paramount, with staff monitoring the fights closely. During the course of the afternoon, the strongest cow in each category is finally crowned queen. The highlight of the Valais cow fight season is the national final in May in Aproz. Here, the winners in the first four categories also compete at the end for the title of “Queen of queens”.

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