Milk from the pipeline

A summer on the alp with the Lantschner family

Die Alp Bella bei Samnaun.
Samnaun is known for the long winter and the large ski arena. But also in summer there are some surprises waiting for the guests. Those who know Alp Bella from winter know that it has the best roast chicken in the region. In summer it is a catered alp. So when Samnaun presents itself in summer dress, the long working days begin for Marco and Monika Lantschner. From June to September, the mother-son team spends their time on the alp.
Marco und Monika Lantscher – das Mutter-Sohn Gespann.

Marco and Monika Lantschner - the mother and son team

Marco (30) and Monika (54) came to their happiness on the alp in 2018 at short notice. In February it was decided that they would spend the summer on the alp. Marco knows the cow pastures in Samnaun like the back of his hand in summer, because the young Tyrolean has been working as a suckler cow herder for 10 years. Monika worked in a grocery store in Austria.

Bevor sie die Beine hochlagern können, müssen die Kühe aber nochmals in den Stall getrieben und gemolken werden.

Alpine summer in Samnaun

The alpine summer in Samnaun lasts from mid-June to about mid-September. First the meadows above the villages are grazed. Then the herd of cows moves steadily upwards and stops for a few days at Alpstein and at Alp Trida before they reach one of the highest cow pastures in Europe, Alp Bella at 2400 m above sea level. At Alp Bella the cows are milked in the barn, at the other pastures above the villages, at Alpstein and at Alp Trida in a mobile milking parlor.

Arbeit mit Kühen auf der Alp. Bild: Dominik Täuber

Work with the cows

A day on the alp begins in the middle of the night: the alarm clock rings at 3 a.m. and a hard day's work begins for both of them. First, the 75 cows have to be fetched from their night pasture so that they can be milked in the barn afterwards. As soon as the sun appears on the horizon and all the cows have been milked, they are taken back to the alpine meadows where they spend the rest of the cool summer day. The milk is then let down into the valley by pipeline and the milk dishes are washed. 

Milch aus der Pipeline

Milk from the pipeline - the cycle of milk

To ensure timely processing of the milk, the Samnaun farmers on Alp Bella considered the best way to get the milk to the alpine dairy in the valley. If one had to drive the winding and stony road to the valley twice a day, this would take a lot of time. For this reason, the alpine farmers decided to build a pipeline with a diameter of about 1 cm into the valley. In summer, an average of 1000 liters of milk per day flow through the pipeline directly to the alpine dairy. The evening milk is collected in a tank at Alp Bella and cooled. The milk of one day flows into the alpine dairy in the morning after milking. Afterwards, the processed cheese can be tasted on a snack platter at Alp Bella.

Engadiner Käseplatte - Genuss pur.

Guest hospitality

When the work with the cows is finished and the cows are grazing and chewing their cud in the meadows, Monika retreats around noon to the kitchen, where she is in charge. She prepares all the dishes herself for the hikers, who are already waiting hungrily on the large terrace. Marco helps his mother to prepare the local dishes and serves them to the table.

Bevor sie die Beine hochlagern können, müssen die Kühe aber nochmals in den Stall getrieben und gemolken werden.

The evening on the alp

When the shadows grow longer, the last guests make their way home and the sun disappears behind the mountain peaks, the working day is not yet over for Monika and Marco: Before they can put their feet up, the cows are once again driven into the barn and milked.