05 March 2020
Swiss Federation of Livestock Farming of the Hérens Breed Centenary
The moment just before the two rivals meet, dust is thrown up by their hooves and their eyes are locked on one another – this typical moment for the Hérens cow is captured on the special stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the Swiss Federation of livestock farming of the Hérens breed. In her design, Visp-based designer Barbara Seiler really captures the powerful nature of the breed. Hérens cows are a remnant of the cattle population that originally inhabited the entire stretch of land between the Austrian Alps and the Savoy. Mentioned for the first time in 1859, the Hérens cow was recognized as a distinct Swiss breed in 1884, and this was followed by the founding of the Swiss Federation of livestock farming of the Hérens breed in 1920. This association follows the zootechnical principles of selection and sets the standard for the breed. There are 64 breeding cooperatives today, with a combined population of just over 6,000 pure-breed Hérens cows within the Federation. In the Alps, rank within the herd is decided by fights. Duelling with other cows of the same species is typical behaviour for the Hérens breed. This is how rank is determined within the herd in the Alps, and the traditional cow fight exemplifies this behaviour. Fights of this kind are held every year in front of a thrilled audience. They are strictly regulated, and the welfare of the animals is the top priority: the cows decide themselves whether they want to fight or not.