7000 cows and just as many inhabitants
Who hasn't come across the famous purple cow? It became a star overnight as the advertising image of a well-known chocolate brand. However, hardly anyone knows that the "purple cow" is in fact the legendary spotted Simmental cow. Around 7,000 Simmental cows live in Gstaad – in other words, one cow per inhabitant.
200 farms, 80 worked Alpine pastures and 7,000 cows – despite its long tradition of tourism, Alpine customs and traditions are still very much passionately lived and breathed in Gstaad. Nothing would work here without Simmental cattle. Tennis legend Roger Federer has already received one as a gift to mark his victory in the Suisse Open Gstaad tennis tournament. They even have their own place of honour on Gstaad's village square. One is almost tempted to say: The real stars in Gstaad's celebrity heaven – are its cows!
A cow with character
You don't want to use the expletives "silly moo" or "dumb cow" in Gstaad! That would be bordering on blasphemy! Cows are held in the same esteem here as in India. Simmental cattle are almost holy here. They are characterised by theirs good fertility, excellent meat and good milk yield. But you would be mistaken in thinking that they are only valued because of their economic benefits. They are valued because of their character attributes, which, incidentally, they often share with their masters: frugal and adaptable, hard-working with a "thick skin". These are qualities that are of huge benefit to animals, as well as people, living in mountainous areas. And if the people of the Saanenland have learned one thing, it is to adapt to the rural and also rather more glamorous life – without losing their identity.
Ancient tradition, not a marketing event
When the cows leave the high Alpine pastures in the autumn amidst the loud clanging of bells, this is an age-old tradition and not a tourist event. Even the locals don't care too much about putting on a show. This relaxed earthiness rubs off on some of the more prominent visitors. They appreciate the fact that "no cow" is going to turn its head when they walk by! That's why they feel comfortable here and often become regular visitors.
Who's the loveliest in all the land?
The Simmental cow's beauty formula: White head, white legs and white lower abdomen. Light yellow to dark, reddish-brown hide, with variable white spots. Also even if they generally prefer to remain in the background, now and again they shine in the spotlight. They show what they can do at Alpine festivals, like "Suufsunntig", at cattle grading events or at cattle auctions. And suddenly even the owners have forgotten all about "understatement". Whoever wins the prize for the Meisterkuh (Master Cow) is ultimately as proud as an actor who has just won an Oscar. At the very least.