Chiming in with Toggenburg customs

Toggenburg is the region of Switzerland where Kägi is located, and every year, in early summer, the local farmers herd their cows and goats up to the lush alpine meadows. There fragrant mountain herbs await the cattle, making their milk particularly tasty. Toggenburg is one of the few regions of Switzerland where this tradition, known as the Alpfahrt or cattle drive, is still observed to this day according to ancestral customs.


In a predetermined order the procession of farming families dressed in traditional Toggenburg costume makes its way up the mountain. The region’s traditional songs are also an integral part of the cattle drive.

Three of the cows – known as ‘bell cows’ – wear finely decorated bells that chime in harmony with one another. In fact, this constant chiming of the cow bells in different tones serves as an accompaniment for the alpine dairymen as they yodel alongside. The combination is an intense carpet of sound.

The singing dairymen themselves wear festive hats embellished with magnificent flowers and colourful ribbons. Most of these posies are from their own gardens and have been lovingly assembled by their wives.

And so the cattle drive proceeds up into the mountains to the alpine meadows where lush mountain herbs make the cows’ milk so tasty. As the trail becomes ever steeper, the dairymen then carry the bells, ringing them rhythmically as they trek along. Accompanied by these sounds the procession finally reaches its idyllic destination.

Watch this video to get an idea of what an alpine cattle drive looks like. Do you agree that a life such as this, and the nurturing of these ancient customs and traditions, is something truly remarkable? :)

Autor: Anja, 20. June 2014