The 8th Styrian Alpine Lamb Festival on Sunday, 26th July 2015

Holiday Mood at the 8th Styrian Alpine Lamb Festival on Sunday, 26th  July 2015!

A family event with many highlights for locals and guests alike. The arrival of shepherdess Svenia, Gipsy, her sheep dog, and their large flock of Alpine sheep enchanted the 4,000 visitors at the 8th Styrian Alpine Lamb Festival.

With free admission, the day’s programme started off at 9.30 with an everyone-welcome church service. The official opening was at 10.00 and was followed by Haus im Ennstal’s traditional marching band playing during the great Frühschoppen. Around lunchtime, shepherdess Svenia led her flock into the festivity area. And once again, the children’s dancing group D´Kufstoana z´Weißenbach performed several dances to everyone’s delight. From 13.00 on, the band Bergwelt Schwung provided the musical entertainment. The youngest visitors had all sorts of fun awaiting them at the Alpine Lamb Festival: a petting zoo, pony riding, face painting, arts and crafts, bouncing castle and much more.

The highlight: shepherdess Svenia driving her flock into the heart of the Hauser Kaibling festivities. It was a joyful moment when shepherdess Svenia and Gipsy, her sheepdog, herded their large flock of sheep, with tranquility, patience and love for the animals, along the Hauser Kaibling FIS valley ski run on the warm Sunday morning. More than 4000 visitors – summer tourists and locals alike – delighted in the arrival, and children’s eyes sparkled as they followed the 700-strong flock. Shepherdess Svenia and her trusty side-kick, Gipsy, watch over the herd high up on the Hauser Kaibling. Up there, from June to September, the cloven-hoofed animals maintain and graze the Alpine pastures and ski runs and make sure that these areas do not overgrow. Hauser Kaibling manager Arthur Moser: “The sheep maintain our ski runs ecologically and add to the charm and adventure for our summer guests at Hauser Kaibling.”

Culinary highlight – the Ennstal Lamb. At lunch, visitors tucked into the culinary delights of Ennstal Lamb. In January 2013, the region was granted GENUSS-REGION status, confirming Ennstal Lamb really is of the best quality.

Hans Stabauer, founder of the BBQ World Association and AMA BBQ head coach, grilled the best pieces of the lamb: spare ribs, burgers, roast, chop, and joint. The whole day long, visitors to the Alpine Lamb Festival enjoyed delicious lamb dishes and other regional specialties made by the local Ennstal Bäuerinnen. The traditional rural youth association Landjugend presented Styrian wines and various fruit juices.

Throughout the day, exhibitors offered their sheep-focussed produce, and in the afternoon, a raffle with great prizes took place. Prizes included a children’s season pass for 2015/16, a SummerCard for summer 2016, a voucher for an Alpine lamb, and a pair of skis.

Austria’s 1st shepherdess: Svenia Paul

The 27-year-old Svenia Paul is the only trained shepherdess to practice this profession in Austria’s mountains. With the Almauftrieb – Spring Sheep Drive – up to the Hauser Kaibling on 2nd June 2015, she took on a flock of about 900 sheep. The animals graze in the course of the Alpine Lamb Project the Alpine pastures and areas used for ski runs in winter. This EU-LEADER project is valuable both for the agriculture and tourism industries. Up to the Hauser Kaibling during summer , the Tauern-Gondola lift brings visitors, who might meet, if they are lucky, the shepherdess and her flock. 

The college-graduate agronomist grew up on a German sheep farm and completed her training with shepherd Martin Winz in Halle. Martin Winz was the first Hauser Kaibling shepherd in summer 2008. He has been friends with the chairman of the Styrian Sheep and Goat Farming association ever since, and this friendship lead to bringing the young shepherdess into the fold.

The project: flock maintains ski runs

The Alpine Lamb Project originally started as EU-LEADER project and developed quickly from there. It links the interests of co-operation partners from various economic backgrounds as well as areas of life. Their main focus is to created a high quality product – Ennstal lamb. At the same time, the Alpine pastures are maintained ecologically because they are prevented from overgrowing, and the biodiversity is sustained. As to ski-run maintenance, the sheep are doing a great job: the flock naturally fertilise the ski-run areas, making them firm for winter. All of this prevents erosion, saves the use of heavy machines, and is good for the environment.

Before the sheep can go for their summer recreation, they have to undergo a health check and be weighed and registered. One of the sheep carries a GPS, with which the flock’s position can be tracked at any time. That way, the flock can always be located via Internet, and it also is useful for research purposes. The 900 sheep on Hauser Kaibling feed on one million kilograms of lush grass, tasty Alpine herbs, and bush-leaves during one grazing period, and thanks to their efforts, the pastures used as ski runs in winter are fertilized, carefully neutralised and made firm thanks to the flock.

Also from an ecological point of view, the Leader Project offers something for everyone. It creates an extraordinarily high quality of life for the 900-strong flock, ensuring prime meat when that time comes around, while also saving energy and caring for the environment. “Thanks to the sheep cultivating the ski runs, fewer costs are incurred by the Hauser Kaibling Ski Lift company: up to 50% lower maintenance and energy costs in summer. The huge reduction of fertilisers as well as less use of heavy machines result in savings and has a positive impact on the environment”, says Arthur Moser, managing director of Hauser Kaibling Ski Lifts.

The over-arching goal of this project is to produce a high-quality product, to cultivate the Alpine pastures ecologically with the help of the sheep, to maintain the great Alpine biodiversity and to use it for tourism purposes. The Spring Sheep Drive also benefits the local farmers.

The Raumberg-Gumpenstein Education and Research Centre is conducting a scientific project, researching the impact of the area’s pasture management on the plant population as well on the animals (weight gain, quality of meat).

Sheep adventure on Hauser Kaibling

Visitors to the Hauser Kaibling can experience the sheep in several ways. The Tauern-Gondola lift brings guests up to the top (Senderplateau) at an altitude of 1,870 m (ascent is included in the Schladming-Dachstein SummerCard). At top station, the Schafsinn hiking loop starts, offering interesting information about the Alpine Lamb project as well as many adventures for the entire family. The surrounding mountain restaurants look after you with food and drink, also offering regional Alpine lamb produce.

Highlight of the past Alpine summer on the Hauser Kaibling was the Styrain Alpine Lamb Festival that took place on 26th July.