The Battle of the Cow Queens

In the alpine region of the canton Valais in Switzerland, there is a century-long tradition of cow fightings. At the National Hérens Cow Festival on May 5 and 6, 2012 in Aproz, cows battle for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat (french: Combat de Reines). The winning cow and queen of the queens is called »Schakira«.

Unlike the bullfightings in Spain, the Swiss cow combats do not involve humans. In a herd, the cows instinctively challenge each other to establish a hierarchy. The cows fight each other pushing forehead against forehead. Because the horns are blunted for the fightings, there is usually little injury. The winner of a duel is the cow who does not retreat and the overall winner undefeated after a series of duels is the queen.

The fighters are HĂ©rens cows named after the alpine Val d’HĂ©rens region of Switzerland. The black coloured animals are very muscular and have short and broad heads sporting strong horns. The breed is unique to alpine regions.

There is a documentary movie coming into Swiss cinemas these days: »Combat de Reines«, a documentary film by Nicolas Steiner.


Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National Herens Cow Festival on May 6, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.


A breeder with his cow wait for the fight at the Battle of the Queens cow fights on May 6, 2012 in Aproz, Switzerland.
An owner leads his cor to the fightings at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
An breeder leads his cow to the fightings at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.

A breeder prepares his cow for the fight at the National Herens Cow Festival on May 6, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.

A breeder examines his cow for injuries after a fight at the battle for the Queen of Cows at the National Herens Cow Festival on May 6, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National Hérens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National Herens Cow Festival on May 6, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland. The cows instinctively challenge each other to establish a hierarchy. The cows fight each other pushing forehead against forehead. The winner of a duel is the cow who does not retreat and the overall winner undefeated after a series of duels is the queen.
Cows lock horns to battle for the queen of cow fights title on May 5, 2012 in the alpine village Aproz, Switzerland.
Cows lock horns to battle for the queen of cow fights title on May 5, 2012 in the alpine village Aproz, Switzerland.
Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
During the combat, the cows push forehead against forehead. The winner of a duel is the cow who does not retreat. Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz, Switzerland.
During the combat, the cows push forehead against forehead. The winner of a duel is the cow who does not retreat. Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz, Switzerland.
Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
Beaters try to control a cow at the Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz, Switzerland.
A cow is rewarded with a piece of bread after a cow fight at the National Herens Cow Festival on May 6, 2012 in Aproz, Switzerland.
Cows fight for the title of the Queen of Cows Combat at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz in the Alpine Canton of Valais, Switzerland.
An owner rewards his winning cow after a fighting at the National HĂ©rens Cow Festival on May 5, 2012 in Aproz, Switzerland.

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