Farmer loses appeal in row over noisy cow bells

A farmer in the Zurich Oberland has lost his latest appeal against neighbours who demanded he remove the bells from his cows because they made too much noise.

Farmer loses appeal in row over noisy cow bells
File photo: Caroline Bishop

A Zurich cantonal court this week upheld the decision of a first instance court made last August, confirming that the farmer must remove the bells from his cows at night, 20 Minutes reported on Thursday.

The ruling applies to any cow located within 200 metres of a house, between 10pm and 7am.

But the farmer – named by 20 Minutes as Manuel Zwischenbrugger – looks set to continue his battle over the issue, which started some five years ago when his neighbours said the noise made by the cow bells kept them awake at night.

In 2014 the local council forbade him from using cow bells at night, an order he appealed.

But after making a site inspection a court ruled last August that the farmer’s neighbours were exposed to loud noise from the bells, even at a distance.

Since the cows were kept in a fenced enclosure, bells were unnecessary, said the court.

But Zwischenbrugger argued that his cattle had on occasion escaped from the enclosure and bells helped him locate them again.

This latest court ruling is unlikely to put an end to the saga.

Speaking to local paper the Zürcher Oberländer last year, the farmer’s lawyer said his client didn't intend to let the issue go.

“We are ready to take it to the supreme court. If my client eventually loses we will know that the farming world no longer counts for much in this country,” said the lawyer.

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Shredding of live chicks to be banned in Switzerland from January 2020

The crushing of live male chicks is at the centrepiece of a number of new animal protection regulations to be passed in the new year.

Shredding of live chicks to be banned in Switzerland from January 2020
Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

A number of other changes to mass agriculture will also come into effect in January, including tracking sheep and goats, as well as greater restrictions on pesticides and more assistance available to farmers in the instance of drought. 

In industrial farming across the globe, male chicks are typically shredded a day after birth as they do not lay eggs and are of little value in factory farms. 

Although the practice is relatively rare in Switzerland, it will be formally forbidden from January 2020. 

READ: Germany allows the shredding of live chicks to continue

The law does include some exceptions for smaller egg producers, however if male chicks are to be put to death, this must now be done with CO2 gas. 

The Swiss House of Representatives, when passing the law, called the practice “absurd”. 

Technology exists which can determine a chick’s sex just nine days into incubation. Although this is used in the United States, Germany and elsewhere, it is as yet not widespread in Switzerland. 

Pesticide restrictions, helicopters for thirsty cows

The Swiss government has made army helicopters available to transport water for cattle in the instance of drought. 

Switzerland’s central animal trafficking database will now also track sheep and goats, with the animals to be given tracking ear tags. 

Furthermore, there will be restrictions on certain pesticides, with the carcinogenic Chlorothalonil banned from January onwards. 

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