Fifty cows dead after fires ravage two Swiss farm buildings

Two fires broke out at separate farms in the Payerne/Avenches area on the Vaud/Fribourg border early on Saturday morning, leaving around fifty cows dead.

Fifty cows dead after fires ravage two Swiss farm buildings
Photo: Fribourg police
The weekend’s events come just two weeks after a series of seven fires in the same region killed 24 horses.
The emergency services were called to a farm in Payerne at around 1.10am on Saturday morning, Vaud police said in a statement. 
Eleven cows were saved, but around a dozen died, plus several calves. Their owners were successfully evacuated and no person was injured.
Less than an hour later a police patrol spotted another fire on an isolated farm building between Domdidier and Dompierre, Fribourg police said. 
Police and the fire service attended the scene, and were able to free a number of cows from the barn. However a number suffered serious burns and had to be put down. 
A police spokesman told news agency ATS that of the 108 cows at the farm, 36 died. 
Those that were freed and ran off were later recuperated by the farmer, he added.
Currently the cause of the fires is unknown, both police forces said. 
No link has been established between the two fires. 
Two weeks ago, also in the early hours of the morning, a series of seven fires broke out in the same region, including one at the National Equestrian Centre in Avenches, where more than 20 horses died. 
Police said those fires were criminal acts, and later arrested a suspect.


Swiss cows miss out again on crown of ‘Queen of Mont Blanc’ in annual duel

An Italian cow beat off competition from 47 other competing animals from Switzerland, Italy and France to claim this year's crown at the 6th edition of the tournament, which means the wait continues for a Valais-born winner.

Swiss cows miss out again on crown of 'Queen of Mont Blanc' in annual duel
Two Herens breed cows fight during the 2015 edition in Aproz, Western Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP.

The International Games of Queens of Mont Blanc takes place every year in either France, Italy or Switzerland at the feet of Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc. This year's edition, the 6th, was held in the French border town of Chamonix.

The unique event dates back thousands of years and celebrates the mountain heritage of the local population. The cows fight fierce battles with their horns, but according to the organizers, there are rarely casualties.

Forty eight belligerent Herens breed cows, named after the Val d'Hérens region of Switzerland, did battle on September 23rd and 24th before packed crowds to contest for the title of 'queen of Mont Blanc.' 

The Herens are endowed with “a unique combativeness,” according to Espace Mont Blanc, a regional website co-administered by Swiss, French and Italian regional governments. 

Each year the animals are led to alpine pastures, where the cows then test their strength and fight for the herd's leadership. The competition ends when a new queen has forced all the other cows to retreat.

Cows from the Swiss canton of Valais were left disappointed again this year in their duels against their counterparts from the Aosta Valley in Italy and cows from France.

Three Valaisian cows made it to the final, reports local daily Le Nouvelliste, although it was Gildo Bonin's Italian Valdostan cow that prevailed in the end. 

The three-nations tournament takes place each year, with each country taking it in turns to host. Last year the tournament was held in Italy; next year it will return to the Swiss canton of Valais. A Valaisian cow is yet to win. 

READ MORE: All you need to know about Switzerland's strangest sports