„Viehscheid“ - Cattle drive

Colourful spectacle in late summer 

The sound of bells announces the arrival of the herd. Spectators by the side of the path are in for a colourful treat. It’s that time of year again: as the summer draws to a close, the well-fed cattle with their festive decorations come down from the mountain pastures and back into the valley. The whole village joins in the celebrations.Visitors come from far and wide to experience the spectacle. A brass band plays. The convivial beer tents gradually fill up. Regional costume associations showcase their skills at Schuhplatteln dancing and Alphorn blowing. The aroma of Bavarian specialities wafts through the air. Every year during the Almabtrieb, the ceremonial cattle drive which in the Allgäu is also known as the Viehscheid, young and old get to experience anew a piece of Bavarian tradition. 

The herd return to the valley safe and sound 

The Almabtrieb is a major attraction in the Bavarian calendar of customs. In the Allgäu, this tradition is known as the Viehscheid. This refers to the route taken by the cattle through the village to the gathering place, where the herd is split up and each individual animal returned to its owner. The Kranzrind (Crown Cow) has a very special role to play in the event. The chosen animal leads the herd and wears an elaborate headdress.

This festive adornment, the crown, goes back to pre-Christian times. The loud bells around the necks of the beasts are designed to protect them from hostile demons and bring them safely down into the valley. The traditional craft of the bellsmiths still exists in Bavaria today: Kilian Trenkle, for example, from Pfronten im Allgäu, produces cow bells that the animals wear around their necks during the Viehscheid. There are two kinds of bells: “Glocken”, which are cast, and “Schellen”, which are wrought from plate metal. The resulting combination of fine, high tones and deep, earthy notes lends the day its distinctive sound.


Dates 2018:    Viehscheid