What makes  Alpine Hay so Special?

Alpine hay is grown in relatively remote regions at high altitude.  The permanent pasture of the Alpine slopes not only benefits from the purity of the mountain air.   The pastures are also rich in wild plants making the hay very nutritious.

Running through a number of European countries including Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, the Alps and its neighbouring ranges provide some of the best hay in Europe.

Hand Cutting Alpine Hay

The steep slopes make mechanical hay making extremely difficult so some of the best hay in the Alps is cut by teams of hay-makers using a traditional scythe.

You can find out more about using a scythe to cut hay from the Scythe Association of Britain & Ireland in the UK or One Scythe Revolution in the US

The Importance of Alpine Hay

The Germans & Austrians take the quality of their hay and hay meadows seriously.  They call milk from pasture fed cows ‘heumilch’ or haymilk and value it for cheesemaking.  They also use it in therapeutic baths and many tourists visit hay hotels where they can sleep in a bed of hay.

Hay Bath South TyrolImage is from Suedtirolerland.it

People of the Alpine regions even cook with it. For example Hay Soup served in bread baked in hay…

Hay Soup in bread From an article in Modern Farmer -image by photographer David de Vleeschauwer

How to get Alpine hay off the side of a mountain!

The haymakers often cut hay by hand using traditional scythes.   The steep slopes of the mountain make mechanical harvesting impossible.  They then gather the hay and have to move it down the mountain slopes.  This is only possible using man-power, but the hay cutters do this in a rather novel way.

The ‘hay avalanche’ that they create saves a lot of time when they are moving hay down from the upper Alpine mountain slopes. Then the haymakers send it on a rope slide down the mountain to the valley below.

Pets love munching away on mountain hay

Pet owners feed this hay to their rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus not just because their pets find they hay delicious.  Their owners enjoy the smell of it, its softness and green colour.

The hay tempts fussy eater, it appeals to their foraging instincts and their tastebuds.  The animals eat the hay which is so important for their digestive system with little or no waste.  Guinea pigs especially enjoy burrowing into mounds of the stuff.

Chefs cook with it, you can bath with it or put it under your pillow for a good night’s sleep.  You don’t have to eat it to enjoy it.