Watching the Almabtrieb spectacle in Austria

The Almabtrieb is an annual event in the Alpine region of southern Europe which takes place in late September, early October. It refers to a cattle drive that brings the cow herd down from the mountain pastures to their barns in the valley

During summer, cattle herds feed on alpine pastures high up in the mountains. This practice known as Transhumance, meaning the action of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal circle, typical to lowlands in Winter and highlands in the Summer.  

Viehscheid, Almabtrieb, bringing the cows down to the valley

I was fortunate to see this custom, the Almabtrieb spectacle, about a decade ago near the Grossglockner mountain in Austria. At the beginning of September the cows of the Piffalm end their Alpine summer in Fusch and return to the home barn of the Bruck. In the spirit of tradition and customs, special care is taken to ensure that the animals make the long journey safe. The headdresses of the cows are lovingly handcrafted by hard-working helpers

Viehscheid, Almabtrieb, bringing the cows down to the valley
Viehscheid, Almabtrieb, means bringing the cows down to the valley (by Wikimedia)

Adorned Cows at the annual return in the valley in Austria. The Almabtrieb is a historic parade in autumn. The cows are lovingly decorated with catholic ornaments and symbols. The men and women in their Tracht, women in Dirndls and men in Lederhosen.

 In many areas the cattle are decorated elaborately, and the cattle drive is celebrated with music, feasts and dance events in the towns and villages

Upon arrival in the valley, the cow herd from multiple farmers are sorted in the Viehscheid, and each animal is returned to its owner. 

Almabtrieb, Viehscheid

In several places this Alpine custom of Almabtrieb has today evolved into a major tourist attraction with a public festival and booths set up along the course for selling agricultural as well as artisans’ products along with alcoholic beverages.

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