Although most cows do spend their summers getting a tan on the alms, the practice has changed since the middle of the last century.
It used to be that whole famlies would migrate up, milk the cows, make butter and cheese, cut the hay, storing it there or taking down to the farms for the winter.
I think maybe with the wars the labour wasn’t there. It certainly was intensive. Some farms still do it, in the Tyrol especially where huge herds of mixed cows, sheeps and goats still go up- but with better transport, often the milk is collected.
I’ve seen pictures of people with huge sledges of hay burning down the hills between banks of snow- another dangerous snow sport!
The valley used to be full of hayhuts, where the hay was simply left to be collected in the winter. Largely out of use, they are falling down everywhere – I’ve often said there ought to be a hay hut presevation society!!!
But here in the Lungau it’s practically died out. Sometimes the huts would have to be rebuilt after avalanches each year, talk about hard work!
Now the cows are sent up dry, to calve during the autumn and winter back at the farm. Or they are simply sent to fatten for the chop in autumn.
This means more winter work, but as the cattle are away from the valleys and silage is made, its not inpratical and is less work in summer. But it does mean there are a lot of injuries during a bad summer, although the farmers do periodically check the livestock, even meaning that the Almbetrieb festivals are cancelled.