Needs More Cow Bell? Not In Switzerland Apparently

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 8.19.08 AM 1It appears that Christopher Walken’s advice of “more cow bell” works more for Blue Öyster Cult is no longer good for diary farmers in Switzerland. The iconic sounds of cows in the pasture with bells around their necks could soon be banned due to research showing that it is harming the hearing of the bovine. The choice is curtailing a pleasant tourist experience or herds of deaf cows.

black-and-white-cow-3Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich found that the tinkling of the bells could damage the cows’ hearing and lead to deafness do to their noise levels of 100 to 113 decibels. What is most remarkable is that these large bells have the same decibel range of a chainsaw and are almost 30 decibels about the legal sound limit in Switzerland of 85 decibels.

Another interesting finding is that the research found that cows that wear cowbells chew their food less than those without them — a possible result of having a 12-pound bell around your neck.

I also did not know that cow bell size is like other size competitions: the larger your cow bell, the greater status and wealth you projected as a Swiss farmer. Accordingly, the bells got bigger and bigger where presumably the most insecure farmer had some poor bovine dragging around the Liberty bell. They also were viewed as keeping away evil spirits, though now they have attracted federal officials.

In the ultimate techno-response, many are suggesting the use of GPS devices to find cows rather than the traditional bells. The problem are the tourists who are unlikely to travel to see the eternal bucolic scene of GPS monitored cows.

Some have suggested the bells be replaced with GPS tracking devices to making tracking cattle easier and quieter, but critics scoff at the idea.

Here is the most positive aspect of this story. In many stories in the United States and other countries, environmental or animal rights reforms are often met with campaigns of opposition from businesses. However,
Swiss Tourism spokeswoman Véronique Kanel said that it was be hard to lose the iconic cow bells but that “animal welfare is paramount.”

It appears that, even in the pastoral settings of Switzerland, “No man is an island. . . for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”

Source: Local Ch as seen on Reddit.

17 thoughts on “Needs More Cow Bell? Not In Switzerland Apparently”

  1. Schulte,

    Sounds like you and your wife have just learned to tune each other out, much like I used to tune out my kids.

  2. Well, when we were there, they told us,” the better the cow, the bigger the bell”, meaning the cows that gave more milk had the biggest bells. Also the bells helped to locate the cows. They are unique bells, I bought 3 of different sizes and use them to let me know when someone is at my door. People usually comment on the uniqueness of the bells. The bells were as much a tourist attraction as the beauty of the countryside. Sorry to hear they will no longer be used.

  3. If I had to listen to a bell all day, every day, I’d go bonkers. Deafness would only bring relief.

    1. You can put dampers on the bells but the idea of the bells is that they are loud enough so the owner hears the cows. 🙂 Deadening the sound defeats the purpose.

  4. Well, the cows roam free here as well. Through mountainous pine and cedar forests and sage brush plains. There doesn’t seem to be a problem finding them or rounding them up. In fact, the cattle tend to round themselves up in most cases and know when to come down to the winter pasture. Of course, ours aren’t dairy cattle and we do lose a few to mountain lions and just general attrition. Dairy cattle are in fenced in acreage and generally don’t wander too far from the food or the milking opportunity in the barns.

    Perhaps the Swiss need to come out and spend some time in the Wild West and see how it is done.

    Maybe some LED lighting instead of bells. Little cow beanies with antennas that glow at night.

  5. Why do they even need cow bells? In this area there are thousands of cows, many of whom are free range. There is always one ‘experienced’ cow who knows the way down from the free range back to the winter pasture. The old cow also seems to have some sort of internal clock and knows when it is time to moooooove on out.

    If you are having trouble finding your cows, get a dog, get a horse and listen to the constant mooing. That’s where the cattle will be.

    1. DBQ – it seems the cows roam free and the bells make them easy to find when it is time to round them up.

  6. I can believe those damn cowbells cause deafness. Speaking of which, Costco has now gone into the hearing aid business, so my wife decided that my poor hearing needed to be tested. I told her I would only go if she went as well. We were both highly disappointed, neither needed hearing aids, much as we thought the other needed them. 🙂 Ah well, the best laid plans of mice and men do oft go astray.

  7. I find it hard to believe that they can’t make a cowbell that doesn’t cause deafness. I’m actually a little surprised that they can make such a cowbell. Simple solution: limit cowbells to those not causing deafness.

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