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Old 08.04.2008, 21:56
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2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

Yes, you did read the title correctly. I said cow fighting.

For the uninitiated (which I assume is pretty much all of you), cow fighting is a traditional sport in the Valais region of Switzerland, where farmers pit their prize hérens cows against those of his countrymen in the hopes of one of his girls bringing home the title of La Reine des Reines ("the queen of queens").

In contrast to bull-fighting, cow-fighting is a bloodless and relatively tame sport: it's more of a locking-horns-and-shoving match, really. This breed of cow is naturally more aggressive than most, and fight to gain dominance over other animals, not to harm them. At the end of the day, the winner is the one who hasn't backed down from any of her adversaries. It looks like this:





According to information on the website of the Fédération Suisse de la Race d'Hérens, there are four regional events remaining:
  • 13.04.2008 Chippis
  • 19-20.04.2008 Le Châble
  • 27.04.2008 Aproz
  • 04.05.2008 Evolène
The Grand Final will be held in Aproz on 11.05.2008, and if you're going to attend just one event, pick this one. It's by far the biggest, busiest, most exciting and best attended of all of them. I went to the final two years ago and wasn't quite sure what to expect (especially considering that I'm not a fan of either fighting-related sports or sports involving animals), but I really enjoyed it. This is a shot from where I viewed the match-ups:



UPDATE APRIL 18th: I've received confirmation of the following information from the Valais tourism office:

The Grand Final will be held in Aproz on May 11th starting at 9:00am, and is estimated to finish around 5 pm.

The finals for each category (there are four) take place at 2 pm and the final for la reine des reines (where the champions of each weight category face off) will be the last event of the day.

There is some parking available, but the site is also accessible by postbus from Sion (the stop is Aproz Village). Check the SBB website for connection details.

The entrance fee is 15 CHF for adults and 3 CHF for children up to 15 years of age. There is a grandstand, with seats costing 30 CHF a piece. (Note: these may have to be purchased in advance but I am not sure of this.)


If you'd like to learn more about this breed of cows and the Swiss Federation of livestocking of the Hérens breed, they have a reasonable amount of information on their website in English, and if you're really keen, they even have their own webforum! There you can find links to photos, and I discovered that you can even order your very own personalised cow fighting wall calendar for only 50.- CHF. What a deal!


Anyway. Just thought I'd post this here in case anyone's interested in checking it out.

HeatherM

PS-For those of you who may have concerns about animal violence or cruelty of any kind, rest assured that it really is non-violent (about as violent as an arm-wrestling match) and the cows are very well looked after. (I kid you not, the winning cow two years ago received a kiss on the lips from her owner!) I read in the paper a few years ago (can't recall which one now) that a group of animal rights activists had shown up at the final ready to protest, but they ended up acknowledging that there was no cruelty, and left before it was over.

Last edited by HeatherM; 18.04.2008 at 16:36.
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Old 08.04.2008, 23:44
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

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For the uninitiated (which I assume is pretty much all of you) ...
Those of us who love hiking in the Val d'Hérens hear a lot about it

Last summer, in St Luc, I saw several old (as in used, not antique) real cow bells. Alas, both the price and the weight dissuaded me from buying one. Maybe this summer ...
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Old 09.04.2008, 09:17
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

I've also heard that the cow fighting events have helped to save this special breed of cow. Apparently, although historically this was the main breed in the region (they are smaller than most cows, and so don't damage the alpine slopes so much), the breed is not particularly good for producing milk or meat. Therefore, when farming changed from being a form of self-subsistence to a commercial venture, the breed was being replaced with more efficient varieties. Then having cow fighting shows in Spring became popular, and so lots of farmers keep at least some of them purely for this purpose, so the breed is now doing well.

The cows are also definitely fighting of their own free will. The handlers occasionally have to point them in the right direction to see that their is a possible opponent standing across from them, but then they let the girls do what they want - either lock horns and push each other around or one of them may turn away immediately and so lose the contest. If a cow turns away from a battle three times, then she's eliminated and is sent back to the pasture. The worst effect we saw from the fighting was that the final two cows were pushing each other around for so long that they were becoming pretty fatigued. However, eventually the new upstart got the upper-hand and pushed the defending champion away, and so was paraded around with a crown on her head, a bow around her middle, and a big new shiny bell around her neck:

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Old 09.04.2008, 09:35
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

I find it fascinating though have never seen in person.

When my parents were visiting a few years ago and we were traveling around Lausanne, they got to watching this event in a bar (yes it is televised) and I couldn't tear them away. They were so fascinated, they were keen on seeing it in person some time (agrarian types are all the same)
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Old 09.04.2008, 11:47
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

Brilliant top tip. Looks like we've found something else to do on the weekend now rather than the swimming (brrrrr) that has become our norm.
Reminds me of the bull fighting we used to go and see in Muscat. A whole bunch of Brahmin bulls would be led into the arena and a referee would decide whose bull fought whose. In typical Omani style, nobody kept a note of this and several human scores were settled by the bulls. No bloodshed and a good time had by all (except those whose job it was to keep the bulls from dashing into the sea)
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Old 09.04.2008, 17:51
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

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The Grand Final will be held in Aproz on 11.05.2008, and if you're going to attend just one event, pick this one. It's by far the biggest, busiest, most exciting and best attended of all of them.
Perhaps some people would prefer to go to one of the smaller ones where you can get much closer to the action. To see what I mean, here's a blog post with some photos and a (somewhat roughly) put-together video clip:

http://tsetsoverflow.blogspot.com/2007/06/cow-fighting-in-valais.html
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Old 10.04.2008, 23:39
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

Just saw that TSR sells a video of the 2006 and 2007 championships: Combats de Reines - Finales 2006-2007.
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Old 13.04.2008, 19:56
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

I went to the cow fights today at Chippis. It was the weirdest most surreal thing I have ever seen.

More than half of the combatants aren't interested and just wander about. Then there's some aggressive mooing and horn locking, and one will eventually run away.

It's like a living Gary Larson cartoon.
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Old 14.04.2008, 13:10
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

I'm glad you enjoyed the experience (or, at least, I think you did). One advantage of going to the Grand Final over the regional contests is that all of the cows at the final have already won their regional contests, which means that most of them are interested in sparring off. However, in the early rounds of the Grand Final there were still several girls who just didn't want to get involved, but there were plenty who did, and they provided much entertainment.
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Old 14.04.2008, 20:51
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

i just keep laughing and laughing at the title...
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Old 18.04.2008, 04:38
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Cow Fighting near Lausanne

According to Le Nouvelliste (the main Valaisin newspaper) there will be a "combat de reines" on the 27th of April in Bussy-Chardonney, not far from Lausanne: Les Vaudois organisent aussi leur combat. English translation (courtesy of Google Translate): The Vaudois also organize their fight.
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Old 18.04.2008, 16:37
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

I've now updated the original post with more specific information about the Cantonal finals, including the (approximate) schedule, entrance fees and transportation information.

Heather
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Old 08.05.2008, 09:25
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

Bump.

Grand Final this weekend
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Old 09.05.2008, 11:58
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

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Bump.
I have slightly different information from today's paper:

9h00: start of the fights
12h-13h30: lunch pause
14h30: start of the finals
16h00: start of live coverage on TSR
18h00: the final finals
19h00-late: party with music

The grandstand fee (25 CHF) is only for the VIP seating; if there aren't also non-VIP grandstands you should still be able to sit on one of the grassy hills surrounding the arena — assuming there's space left. Playground provided for kids. Free parking and free shuttles both from the overflow parking and from the train station.

Of course, local specialties — food and wine — will be available.

A few of the favorite cows:

"Tina", born 01.11.1998, 752 kg (in 07), owned by BRUTTIN Bernard, Sion
- Queen of the Valais Fair 2004
- Cantonal Queen 2007

"Câline", born 09.11.1998, 759 kg, owned by BONVIN Médard, Lens
- Queen of the Chippis combat

"Diamant", born 05.12.1999, 635 kg, owned by MOIX Roger, Eison
- Queen of the Eison alpage
- 2nd category Queen during the first Aproz match

"Mésange", born 11.12.1996, 661 kg, owned by ANDENMATTEN Erich u. Iwan, Saas-Grund
- 2nd category Queen this spring at Raron

Also, keep an eye out for "Vampire" (1st category Queen during the first Aproz match), "Picatchou" (2nd category Queen at the Valais Fair), and "Golda" (1st category Queen this spring at Raron)…
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Old 10.05.2008, 23:44
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

Wow, who would`ve thought that there was a Cows flight
This is very interesting, a must see I guess.
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Old 14.05.2008, 11:51
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

I'm curious to know if anyone attended this event. I know I'm the one who posted it, but on the day itself I was in Zurich.

Anyone want to share their experiences?

HM
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Old 20.06.2008, 15:28
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

Spiegel Online has a series on Europe's Weird Ways, and early this month it featured THE MOO FIGHTERS -- Battle of the Bovines in the Swiss Alps. While it may be "quaint" it does not seem to me to really qualify as "weird".
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Old 20.06.2008, 15:42
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

I stumbled on this in Le Chable a few years ago after skiing in Verbier. We could see something happening so wandered along, and were amazed by the spectacle of some bizaare form of bovine wrestling, with a group of valaisan judges occasionally directing the stewards (?) to remove those cows who were not up to the job. Frankly it looked like another excuse for the locals to sup a jar or two, but suddenly got exciting when a cow jumped the barrier! Got loads of photos will dowload some serious cow on cow action shots.
Ultimately, weird but interesting.
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Old 20.06.2008, 19:57
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

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I went to the cow fights today at Chippis. It was the weirdest most surreal thing I have ever seen.

More than half of the combatants aren't interested and just wander about. Then there's some aggressive mooing and horn locking, and one will eventually run away.

It's like a living Gary Larson cartoon.
ROFLOL I love the concept I most DEFINITELY have to see some of these!
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Old 05.09.2008, 01:36
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Re: 2008 Swiss Cow Fighting Schedule

By now we all know about cow fighting. Thanks to Spiegel Online for an article on The Wrestling Camels of Turkey.
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The west coast of Turkey has a tradition of camel wrestling, which pits champion beasts from local villages against each other in a dusty stadium. But it tends to be as comic as it is exciting, since camels aren't natural-born fighters.
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