Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014



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.

The study is a big win for animal rights groups in Switzerland. “We didn’t need long university research to tell us that the bells are not beneficial to cows,” quipped activist Lolita Morena. See, cows in flat places like Texas don't need bells to be located. But in the steep, foggy Alps, they are considered a necessity. Plans to equip bovines in GPS devises would solve the problem. This means farmers will just have to spend a bit more time finding their cows in bad weather. "It’s difficult work... but they chose it,” explained the unsympathetic Morena.

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.

While we here at the DUNER BLOG cherish folk tales, we do side with the Cow Bell Ban. Since one in every ten people in Switzerland is a millionaire (the highest ratio in the world) they can afford to put GPS chips and implement more humane practices. Even the Swiss Tourism Bureau agrees. "It's hard to imagine Switzerland without cowbells. " explained spokesman VĂ©ronique Kanel, lamenting that an era has passed. Yet she knows that the cowbell is only a small fraction of the wonders of the famed nation, and understands that "animal welfare is paramount.

NOTE: No word yet on whether the Swiss will ban the Saint Bernard Rescue dogs from carrying canisters of brandy around their necks. Don't worry! The DUNER BLOG will inform you of any such legislation.

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