Austria Meadows and Pastures

By | December 20, 2021

Almost 30% of the Austrian territory is occupied by artificial meadows and alpine pastures; but we must distinguish the cultivated meadows (ha. 924,300; 12.3%) interspersed with the fields on the lower slopes of the valleys and not far from the villages, from the natural pastures, located towards the mountain ridges, beyond the treeline, or in the rocky areas (1,300,000 ha; 17.3%).

The former are mainly widespread in the Danube plateau region and on the slopes of the Bohemian Forest, in the foothills, at the bottom of the major valleys, interspersed with fields with which they often rotate (Upper and Lower Austria 20.1% and 12% ;, Vorarlberg 15.2%). On the other hand, they are scarce in Alpine areas (Tyrol 7.4%). In these natural pastures predominate, above the treeline, to which the animals are led for aestivation, sometimes in successive stages: with these forms of exploitation of natural pastures is connected the presence of particular temporary dwellings (Almen) and usages and customs of nomadism to archaic traditions.

The provinces with the greatest extension of pastures are Tyrol, where there are approximately 3971 sq km. of pastures (41.8% of the area) and the Vorarlberg with 1175 sq. km. (51.3%), with an intensive and very old livestock breeding industry. As we move towards the peripheral pre-alpine areas, at lower altimetric limits, the extent of the pasture decreases. Thus Salzburg has only 39.8% of pasture especially towards the crests of the High Tauern; the extension of the pastures on the calcareous pre-Alps and in the Bregenzer Wald is very limited, where there is just 10% of lean, stony pasture; Carinthia owns 25.1% of its surface, Styria 13.4% and it can be said that pastures are lacking in Upper and Lower Austria (2.7 and 3.7% of the total area, especially in the Transdanubian territories).

If cattle breeding in Alpine areas is especially linked to the extension of natural high mountain pasture, in the lower areas it is largely based on cultivated meadows, so that in Austria the livestock industry is no less important than in Switzerland. Certainly the 1919 livestock census noted a decrease compared to the 1910 consistency, for reasons common to all the countries that were involved in the war, but the livestock patrimony, in 1923, had rapidly reconstituted. In fact, in October 1918, cattle, excluding those from Burgenland, were reduced to 1,841,883 heads, but in March 1923 they had risen to 3,043,771, thus exceeding the pre-war number; and if in 1910 there were 35.3 heads per 100 residents, reduced to 32.2 in 1918, today there are 49, 6 (Italy 15 heads per 100 residents),. with a large margin for export. The same can be said for sheep, which have rapidly grown from 522,000 in 1910 to 979,000 in 1923, with a proportion that has changed from 8.6 to 14.9 head per 100 residents.

The richest in cattle, as can be understood, are the western Alpine provinces, with a maximum of 89.8 animals per 100 residents. in Upper Austria and 84.7 in Tyrol, where the Schwyz breed is replacing the ancient Montafon one; while the spotted breed of Pusteria and Tuxer is also extending into Carinthia, where in the past the local red type dominated. Dairy breeds dominate above all in the Allgäu Alps, in the Kitzbühel Alps and in the Carnic Alps; those for fattening mainly in eastern Pusteria, in the Lavant-Tal Alps and in Salzburg; elsewhere cattle serve mainly as work and slaughter animals. For Austria 2015, please check

Sheep are numerous in Carinthia, with 42.7 heads per 100 residents, Since the Slav population is mainly dedicated to grazing sheep in the wild, while then the Tyrol and Salzburg follow (34.4 and 34.3 per 100 residents), where uncultivated lands and poor pastures are very extensive.

Horses, although reduced from pre-war 4.7 to 4.3 per 100 residents, Are relatively abundant in Carinthia (7.9 per 100 residents) In Upper Austria (6.3) and Lower Austria (6, 1), in Salzburg (5,2), where in the inner basins of the middle valleys of Enns, Salzach, Drava, in the Klagenfurt basin, as well as along the Danube, there is a notable breeding especially of horses (well known breeds of Pinzgau and Styrian), while mules and donkeys are very scarce throughout Austria (in 1923 there were 312 donkeys and 1088 mules overall), which can be seen especially in Carinthia and Tyrol.

Pig breeding in the pre-war period was very remarkable: in 1910 there were 1,932,000 heads, down to 1,473,112 in 1923 (without Burgenland), equal to 22.5 per 100 residents, Against 29.2 in 1910, when they were needed, not only for local food, but also for export. The percentage is low in the high mountains (Tyrol and Salzburg 8.6 per 100 residents), While it is much higher in the pre-Alpine area and beyond the Danube (Lower and Upper Austria 37.6 and 35.2, Styria 33.4 and Carinthia 36.6). These provinces and Salzburg are also rich in poultry (over 5,700,000 hens, 115,000 geese, 75,000 ducks altogether, in 1923), with rich egg and poultry trade in inland cities, especially Vienna.

As can be seen, the supply of meat and fats, with the relative dairy products, is abundant especially in butter and cheese, in Vorarlberg, in Tyrol and in Salzburg, and more than sufficient for the feeding of the population of Austria to which this can count on a strong export.

Statistics on hunting and fishing products are lacking, but in the peripheral pre-Alpine areas, especially the northern limestone Alps, the eastern hills, the Karavanke and the Austro-Styrian border, which was called the “natural park of Europe”, there are extensive game reserves in the hands of large owners, which, however, are rapidly shrinking due to the need for agriculture. The number of people employed in the hunting industry before the war was estimated at about 12,000, of which 3400 in Styria, and 3300 in Lower Austria. In the high mountains, the hunt for mountain rooster and chamois dominates, especially in Tyrol, where around 1900 people are employed.

Freshwater fishing is carried out individually on all large and small rivers and lakes in the region, especially for trout, but has no economic value other than in some lakes of the Klagenfurt basin, and on the shores of Lake Constance., where in 1916 they fished for 17.950 kg. of fish, mostly shipped, for consumption, to the inner cities of Austria.

Austria Meadows