Forrahof LaugenRind from the Martelltal Valley

For centuries, the harsh climatic conditions and poor soils in the high Alpine Martelltal/Val Martello Valley presented an obstacle to farming. At the Forrahof mountain farm, Erich Stricker keeps about 10 cattle (including bulls and calves). As part of the LaugenRind mountain farming project to assist small-scale farmers in remote areas, he tenders to his grey mountain cattle, although sheep are also kept.

The Laugenrind cattle breed has become a registered bovine sub-category, referring to a strain of the Tyrolean Grey cattle that graze around the Laugen mountain. Up to just a few decades ago, these magnificent bovines risked being completely displaced by sturdier breeds that are more profitable to farm. The locally-bred grey cattle are indigenous to these mountains. Stockier than larger cattle, the grey-silver cows with a shiny pelt are perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions in the Alps. They mostly graze in the mountains of the Deutschnonsberg/Alta Val di Non, in the Ultental/Val d’Ultimo Valley, Vinschgau/Val Venosta Valley and on the mountain slopes of the sprawling Stelvio National Park. Not only are these bovines smaller and more agile than the more ubiquitous breeds, they are also more resilient to harsh weather conditions.

Farmers like Erich Stricker have dedicated much time and effort to this project. Species-specific farming of this indigenous breed meant modifying his entire farm. The cattle graze about 120 days a year on the Alpine pastures before being brought to the fields lower down. In the remaining months, conditions in the Stelvio National Park are too harsh to leave the cows on the same grazing land, where the steep and slippery slopes pose severe risks and where the snow piles high on the ground. This necessitated the construction of proper stables. Thanks to a new gangway being built, the cows will be able to move outside freely.

The calves at the Forrahof are fed with cow's milk before receiving enriched fodder. In accordance with prescribed practices, indigenous cattle farmers have to forgo dry milk and silage fodder, as is common in factory farming. Cattle-feeding is strictly regulated by the LaugenRind Project. Mountain dairy farmers like Erich Stricker don’t complain, since their reputation is based on the high quality of their products.

With the milk left over after feeding the calves, farmer Stricker makes cream cheese for his own use. Nothing is wasted – just as it has always been on the steep mountain farms in the Martelltal Valley.

Nowadays, Stricker produces some of the highest quality South Tyrolean beef. With an average age of between 24-30 months, the cattle on the Forrahof are allowed to grow relatively old, before they are ready for slaughter at the regional abattoir in Bolzano. The short distance in transporting the animals prevents unnecessary suffering. The meat is marketed regionally through the DELEG cooperative and is available at selected sales outlets throughout South Tyrol.

Stricker Erich
Sonnenberg/Montesole 123
I-39020 Martell/Martello (BZ)
call +39 3336594466