Back in the autumn of 2018 I joined a delegation of international journalists to visit Lucerne in Switzerland; to learn more about their thriving cheese making sector and witness the world famous cow parade.
Switzerland is home to over 450 varieties of cheese. With cows milk being used in about 99 percent of the cheese produced. During our tour we got to visit some of the small scale farmers and cheese makers, high up in the Swiss Alps. It was fascinating getting to see the famous Alpine brown cows. We also got to speak directly to the farmers and cheese makers. Learning about the traditional methods of Swiss dairy farming, small-scale cheese making and the annual cow parade.
On our day trip we got to visit a goat dairy farming family, who also produced a delicious goats cheese. As is often the case in smaller scale family farms in Switzerland, the milking parlour was located in the basement of the main farm house. Interestingly, we also learnt that the farmer was a bus driver to supplement his farm income.
We also got to attend the famous Swiss Cheese Awards in Lucerne.
We visited a slightly larger-scale cheese producer who sourced milk from local farms.
The final day of our tour coincided with the world famous Alpabfahrt Cow Parade. We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes to see the final preparations of the farmers getting themselves and their cattle pristine before the long decent into the local town.
It was fantastic to see the huge crowds of people who had turned out to celebrate the farmers and their livestock parading through the town. Lining the streets were local street vendors selling delicious cheese and dried meats from the area.
I’d like to thank the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) for organising such a brilliant tour.
Check out the My Switzerland website here for more details on cow parades.