ALMO – alpine oxen meat from Austria

Under the ALMO brand, a meat processing company, a foundation for animal welfare, and 400 farmers, organised in an association and managing alpine pastures around the Austrian Teichalm and Sommeralm, work together to produce and market alpine oxen with higher animal welfare standards.


With the ALMO-initiative a value chain contract solution has been introduced to secure the economic viability of the farms in the “Almenland nature park”, and to preserve landscape and scenery of the Almenland region: In 1988, 45 oxen farmers joined forces to establish a brand and produce high quality alpine oxen meat with higher animal welfare standards. The initial number of 45 farmers increased to about 400 farmers in the last 30 years, organised in the association ALMO. At the beginning, oxen meat was marketed by small butcheries. 2001 a strong expansion took place as the meat processing company “Schirnhofer" joined the ALMO-program. The animal protection association “VIER PFOTEN” developed additional animal welfare criteria to guarantee high animal health and welfare standards on the farms. Since 2014, farms can be certified based on these criteria. The farmers get fixed prices for the oxen, which are on average 23% higher than the market price. ALMO products are sold using diverse points of sales, including some large companies of the Austrian food chain. Additionally, the meat production company sells the meat products via an online store


1. Marketing of oxen meat from alpine pastures in Austria
2. Preservation of alpine/mountain pastures by grazing.
3. Secure economic viability of the farmers in the Almenland region.
4. Secure high animal health and welfare standards in oxen meat production.

Data and Facts - Contract

Participation: Now, about 400 farmers take part in the ALMO-initiative, producing about 4000 alpine oxen per year (about 10 per farm). The area involved in the ALMO-program is the “Almenland nature park”, covering 253 km². 
Involved parties: 
• Farmers: The farmers are organized in an association (ALMO-Verein) founded 1988. The association consists of 500 members (mostly farmers). 
• Meat processor: The living oxen are delivered to the meat processor Schirnhofer, which organises the slaughtering of the oxen and the processing and selling of meat under the brand ALMO. A part of ALMO-meat is also sold directly to the gastronomy. Since 2016 the delivery of the gastronomy is conducted through the company “Kröswang”. 
• Animal welfare organization: The animal welfare organization “VIER PFOTEN” exists since 2003. Since 2014, ALMO-farms can be certified according to the animal-protection-criteria developed by "VIER PFOTEN" together with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna. 
• Citizens: The ALMO-brand is an economic factor for the whole region. It also influences the tourism sector; Because of ALMO, the region is a declared culinary region “Genussregion”. In the end the ALMO ox reaches the consumer in form of high quality meat.
Management requirements for farmers: The ALMO-program requires certain husbandry conditions. During the summer months (May – September) daily grazing of the oxen on an alp or pasture in the mountain area is obligatory. In total, the oxen must be grazing on Alpine pastures for at least 150 days per year. During winter, tethering of oxen and fully slatted floors are prohibited, also more space than in conventional husbandry must be provided. Since December 2006, feedstocks have to be GMO-free. Feeding mainly includes grassland, pasture grass, grass silage, hay (min. 75% grass in the annual ration). Energy supplementation is possible especially in the final fattening (grain meal). The castration of the oxen is necessary, but a 3-fold pain elimination is required (sedation, local anaesthesia and post-operative pain treatment with NSAIDs). The same requirements need to be met for dehorning.
Controls/monitoring: The ALMO – farms get controlled and certified by agroVet GmbH.
Each farm is checked at least once a year. Costs of inspection are borne by the meat processor. 
The following points are checked:
alpine pasture and pasture management, stables, space 
• animal health, treatment 
• feeding, GMO-free 
• assessment of animal welfare on the basis of animal-related parameters (Welfare Quality)

Problem description

Due to the rapidly increasing motorization in agriculture, the ox has long since been replaced as a draft animal. The domestic demand for ox meat was not significant, so the only way out was to export the Alpine oxen via trading companies with subsidies, in some cases as far as North Africa. In 1988 the idea of founding a brand was born. The ox farmers wanted to produce quality oxen on their alpine pastures for the Austrian market.

Context features

Landscape and climate: The “Almenland Nature Park” is the largest contiguous alpine pasture area in Europe, with 125 alpine meadows and pastures. The alpine meadows are located up to 1500 m above sea level and registered in the alpine pasture register. The area is characterized by flat slopes, lush alpine pastures and numerous spring streams. The special cultural landscape was formed by centuries of alpine pasture management, which largely prevented the overgrowth of bushes and forests. The 12 municipalities located in the area have formed the Leader region "Almenland". The macroclimate is mainly influenced by continental climate, especially in the south of the Eastern Alps. The winters are cold and the summer is moderately warm. Precipitation is high. Nevertheless, there are many microclimates and different soil conditions in the Almenland with various plant communities at different altitudes. These plants serve as the feeding basis for the oxen. 
Farm structure: The cultural landscape and the sustainable, extensive farming provided a good basis for a long tradition in tourism. 17,7% of the population is working in the agriculture and forestry sector. 10 Percent of the oxen farms are organic. ALMO-farms on average keep 20 oxen, 9 to 10 are slaughtered every year. The average agricultural area is 17 hectares per farm, of which 15 hectares are grassland. All member farms are registered in the National Register of Mountain Farms. Many farmers work on a part-time basis.

Success or Failure?

The ALMO-program presents a successful contract solution. The contract solution is judged successful, as the number of participants increased over the years. The ALMO-program started 1988 and is still running. The ALMO-ox is kind of an symbol for the region. The
acceptance of farmers is high (some of them participate since 30 years). The animal health and welfare increased on the oxen farms.

Reasons for success :

• The ALMO-program provides an alternative for the farmers.
• The oxen farming in the region has a long tradition and the area is very suitable for this type of farming.
• The initiative for the ALMO-program was from the oxen farmers themselves and they organize themselves by means of an association (ALMO-Verein).

SWOT analysis

Main Strengths
1. Farmers organize themselves in an association (ALMO-Verein) since 1988
2. Oxen husbandry fits well into the region and agriculture.
3. The brand continues to develop and responds to the animal welfare requirements of the population.
4. The brand continues to develop (e.g. online sales platform)
Main Weaknesses
1. All products are delivered to one buyer. Disadvantage for small local butcheries
2. Contrary to the original objective, many of the grazing areas on the mountain pastures are now grazed by suckler cows rather than by alpine oxen
3. The quality criteria of the meat processor are difficult to achieve with pure grazing (final fattening with energy supplementation)
Main Opportunities
1. ALMO can be marketed as a symbol of the region and the
Almenland Nature Park.
2. Tourism is very strong and therefore the preservation of the landscape is of great interest.
3. Increasing societal awareness for animal welfare
Main Threats
1. Dependence on a single large meat processor
2. Development of the demand of oxen meat in Austria.
3. Increasing risk of water shortages on Alpine pastures.

farmer – slaughterhouse – meat processing – distributor - store – consumer


Farm animal health and welfare

Landscape and scenery

Rural viability and vitality



The region "Steirisches Almenland" is located about 40 km northeast of the federal capital Graz in the district Weiz. It comprises the Teichalm-Sommeralm area. It is the largest contiguous alpine pasture area in Europe.


Contract conclusion:

Written agreement

Payment mechanism:

Payment for product – more money then for equal products – fixed price.


Schirnhofer company pays farmers for the selling of living oxen. About 23% higher than market price.

Start of the program:



still running

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