Tuesday, October 14, 2014
OCT 14 BAN ON SWISS COWS WEARING BELLS
There is nothing like a vacation in Switzerland! Breath taking hiking trails are plentiful. They zigzag from lush meadows to steep cliffs, offering the visitor Alpine splendor at every turn. See, in Switzerland, the peaks are higher, the lakes are larger and the rivers are faster. However, one item will soon be missing from this spectacle. The famed cows of Switzerland are loosing their bells.
A groundbreaking study on dairy cows at Zurich's Federal Institute has the entire nation questioning one of their beloved traditions. It found that the enormous bells worn around their necks emit a tone ranging from 100 to 113 decibels...which is equivalent to a chainsaw at full blast! This far exceeds the Swiss legal sound limit of 85 decibels. As a result, most bovines suffer hearing loss and many are deaf altogether. Also, the 12-pound iron bells impede grazing habits. Cattle without bells eat 25% more grass and are healthier.
So will cowbells disappear from the Swiss Alps? "Nicht so schnell," say the farmers. They stress the traditional role the bells play in Swiss society. In medieval times, the size of a bell signified the best milk producing cow. It received the honor of wearing the largest one. For the farmers, the elaborate, ornate bells are a source of pride. There are even Bell Festivals. In the Alpaufzug Festival, boys ring cowbells in the streets. Folklore says the sound rids the pastures of evil spirits and makes the grass grow faster.