The boss cow

There’s always a boss cow. She’s the one who leads the herd down the road when it’s time to change pastures, and the one who is first to start the daily trek to water. She has pushed, shoved and bunted her way to the top of the hierarchy.

But in this part of the world, she probably hasn’t done it all publicly. Her dominance has been achieved out on the back 40, where periodic face-offs keep her on top.

A story in the May 9 Globe and Mail explained that Swiss Herens cows are known for their desire for dominance. They are so keen to be bossy that the Swiss have made a sport out of it. Cows battle in the ring for the Queen of Queens title by pushing, shoving and head butting. Veterinarians at the matches step in if the fights lead to injury and no cow ever dies in battle. She just wins that particular match and goes on to fight again.

According to the Globe story, written by Nicolas Brulliard of the Wall Street Journal, the title has been fought for 90 years. Presumably the anti-doping regulations are a more recent development.

Sometimes the fights aren’t that thrilling, from the sounds of it. As in Canadian herds, sometimes the less bossy cow takes one bunt of the head from her bossier counterpart and gives up. Cows aren’t stupid, you know.

These cow fights are said to be very popular in parts of Switzerland but I doubt they will catch on here in Canada. For one thing, many cattle producers have put a lot of work into selecting cattle for their gentler dispositions and easy handling.

And for another, it’s hard to figure how push-and-shove cow battles can compete on the adrenaline scale with North American ringside attractions like bull riding and monster trucks.

I guess that says quite a lot about the comparative Swiss and Canadian entertainment preferences.



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