Back to the barn - the custom of the alpine cattle drive
Depending on the number of animals which have been looked after by an alpine herdsman in the summer, this prettifying session can take up to five hours. Individual cattle dreives take place at different times and these are heavily dependent upon the weather. By way of an additional adornment, the cows are decorated with a bell around their neck. Cows are given bells with different tones, according to their status. During the cattle drive, the so-called "Kranzkuh" proceeds at the front, with a very special head-dress. The other cows and yearlings follow and the calves scramble at the end of the procession.
The alpine cattle drive was first mentioned in writing in a Pustertal inventory from 1746. However, decorating the animals during the cattle drive is said to actually date back to earlier times. The pealing of their bells was said to drive away evil spirits. Many people enjoy the sight of the alpine cattle drive of garlanded cows from the alpine pastures down into the valley. People say that cows are silly creatures, but they know exactly what’s going on when the bells are hung around their necks – it’s time to head back into the valley, and no-one needs to show them the way.
Having arrived in the valley, the cows and their chaperones receive a huge welcome, with music and a programme of supporting events along with tasty treats from the region to celebrate; local farmers provide an insight into the busy life in the mountains.