800 sheep on the summer slopes
Counting sheep on Hauser Kaibling
Mountain shepherdess on Hauser Kaibling
Trouble sleeping? Not for our mountain shepherdess, Christina. Even during the day, she counts sheep. A whole 800 sheep. Every day of summer, she sets out with her cloud-white, teddy-bear brown co-workers for probably the most beautiful workplace in the world: Hauser Kaibling. The task: graze the slopes and to maintain Alpine diversity. Her flock picks and plucks, grazes and crunches the lush green alm herbs of the Styrian mountain. It is almost as if they know they’re about to share their little paradise with relaxation-seeking bipeds.
Simply follow the gentle sound of their bells hovering over Hauser Kaibling. Our shepherdess is always happy for some company – and you’re always welcome to lie down in the meadow to count the sheep on Styria’s Hauser Kaibling.
The Land der Berge documentary ‘Sheep: the secret heroes of Austria’s Alpine pastures’ aired on Thursday, 9th June 2022, on ORF III. Look out for repeats. Visit tv.orf.at for dates and times.
LAND DER BERGE: Sheep: the secret heroes of Austria’s Alpine pastures
ORF III / Thursday, 9th June, 9:15 pm.
Their hooves are called golden claws because their footprints help prevent mud slides. They are frugal, stoic, and are among the oldest companion of men: sheep. The latest Land der Berge production traces the benefits of the little ruminant. Without sheep grazing from bushes, there wouldn’t be alpine pastures in our mountains. In South Styria, they chew the grass in the vineyards, and in Upper Austria, they are useful in running photovoltaic facilities.
Sheep are hugely underestimated: their wool makes high-quality clothing and even mountain pioneers – think Edmund Hillary, the first climber of Mount Everest – climbed in sheep-wool jackets.
Despite having dropped in importance over the last few decades, sheep are enjoying a renaissance. Mountaineers once again swear by merino wool, and in Haus im Ennstal, sheep graze on the summer slopes. Come and join us on a woolly journey across Austria!
Sheep adventures on Hauser Kaibling
SchafsinnTeich: At the Kaiblingalm reservoir lake there is, besides the water zorbing, lots of new stuff to explore. Our new Schafsinn barefoot trail along the reservoir lake gives you sense of life for sheep, what they feel under their hooves every day, the moss, sand, forest soil, gravel, or others. Little climbers, check it out: along the new sheep climbing path, you can scramble over tree trunks, rocks or stilts – without straps or carabiner. The fun sheep-jumping, the sheep-whispering, cosy resting spots with gorgeous views of the Dachstein – and much more – complete the adventure offer at the new Schafsinn Lake.
Petting zoo: 800 sheep accompany across the mountain and in our petting zoo. At 1,400 metres, you get up close to sheep and lambs as well as ponies, goats, bunnies, and mini pigs. Tip: Come at feeding time.
Schafsinn Circular Trail: fun and informative, with panoramic views. A balance between uphill, downhill and relaxation. As well as the instructive explorer stations, you have splendid views across the Enns valley, and a good chance to walk into the flock. Walk back via the Nature Jewel Kaiblingalm.
Summer huts: Taste the local specialities at the mountain restaurants TOMiziel Berggasthof Scharfetter, the Krummholz hut and Kaiblingalm hut – from hearty snacks to delicious Ennstal lamb.
Kids Adventure Trail: At many stations, children can show their knowledge about sheep. Riddling and exploring fun is guaranteed. Get your riddle pass at the base station cash desks.
Alpine Lamb Fest: the Styrian Alpine Lamb Festival is on the last Sunday of July, 31st July 2022. The focus is completely on sheep, with highlights like culinary treats, the shepherdess with her flock returning from the pastures, live music, a great children’s programme, market stalls with regional produce, and much more.
By driving more than 800 sheep up to Hauser Kaibling, the Sheep and Goat Farming Association and the Hauser Kaibling Ski Lift Association have set a new course in landscape maintenance:
- Systematic grazing on the Alpine pastures and ski-run areas
- Scientific support by the LFZ Raumberg-Gumpenstein
- Benefits for tourism
- Professional marketing
Sheep farming in Austria and in the district of Liezen has a long tradition. Over the years, a reduction of agricultural businesses because of constantly increasing costs and a shortage of labour meant a drop in farming in the Alpine pastures. The Alpine pastures became overgrown with dwarf-shrubs and brush, as well as trees. Climate change has also affected the landscape, seeing the forest line move higher up the mountains.
To counter this, the Styrian Sheep Farming Association in partnership with Haus im Ennstal, the Hauser Kaibling Ski Lifts, the LFZ Raumberg-Gumpenstein (agricultural school), as well as the regional agriculture authority in Stainach, created the Alpine Lamb Project on Hauser Kaibling in 2008.
In the first couple of weeks in May, the sheep are driven up Hauser Kaibling, where they spend their summer. A shepherd looks after about 800 sheep and lambs for the entire summer. Before they head up to the alpine pastures, the sheep are registered, weighed, wormed, and undergo a routine health check. The weight of all the sheep together is about 40,000 kg. During the 120 days of grazing, the flock eats more than 1 million kg of grass, alpine herbs, and leaves from the brush. The flock significantly contributes to the maintenance of our cultured landscape.
Hauser Kaibling Health Resort
While the sheep are very comfortable up on the alpine pastures (it is like a health resort for them), the variety of the feed creates the best conditions for the production of high-quality Alpine lambs, which are sold through the Ennstal Valley Sheep Farming Centre.
Ecological ski-run maintenance
Not only are the alpine pastures great for grazing, they are also Hauser Kaibling’s ski run areas. By grazing, the sheep provide very ecological ski run maintenance, so the use of heavy vehicles and equipment can be reduced significantly.
The LFZ Raumberg-Gumpenstein scientifically monitors the flock, ensuring the effects of grazing on the plant population is as beneficial as they are for the animals (weight gain, meat quality).