The Hérens Cattle
The Hérens cattle are named after the Val d’Hérens. With a height at the withers of 1.20m and weight of about 550 kg, the Hérens Cattle is one of the smallest cattle breeds in Europe.
Their hardiness makes them a very good mountain cow. They walk very well and move with great agility in difficult terrain, which allows them to graze with ease in the high pastures of the Valais. They have a very docile temperament. However, the Hérens cattle show all of their strength in spectacular fights to compete for the title of queen of the herd. These combats are part of their natural behaviour.
An indigenous breed
Robust, well adapted to the climate and the terrain of the canton Valais, this breed has become a true symbol of the Valais mountain life.
This indigenous breed comes from the Val d’Hérens. These small-horned alpine cattle can easily climb up to 3’000 meters above sea level.
Cow fights (Combat des reines)
During the fights, the Hérens cattle have a very competitive nature. Every spring, with the annual migration to the alpine pastures, the cows fight (with their horns). These cattle are not trained for this, it is instinctive. The strongest of them all, the “queen” will lead the herd during the summer.
This natural aptitude has lead to organized cow fights (combats des reines), which attract a great number of breeders and eager spectators. The contests are held in the plain before the seasonal migration as well as in the alpine pastures. The cows are separated according to age and weight, and then guided to a relatively flat grassy area, where they choose their own opponent. The combat ends once the defeated turns away. The winner will then face another opponent. Injuries during these fights are very rare.
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