File photo: The Local
According to a report by broadcaster SRF, currently cattle farmers are not required to check whether their cows are pregnant before selling them for meat, and only around 30 percent of farmers do.
As a result around 15,000 pregnant cows are sent for slaughter every year, according to findings from the Federal Veterinary Office which investigated the issue some years ago.
The findings raised the shackles of animal rights group and the issue has proved controversial in Switzerland and abroad over the past few years.
Now a working group led by industry body Proviande has devised new regulations set to come into force on February 1st which aim to prevent the slaughter of cows carrying calves.
Under the rules, farmers will be obliged to check heifers aged 18 months old or more for pregnancy, as well as any cow whose last calf was born was more than five months previously. If a farmer isn’t sure, he must call a vet to examine the animal.
Pregnant cows will not be allowed to be slaughtered unless in exceptional circumstances such as accident or incurable illness.
The rules will “help those who keep cows to take ethical responsibility for the well-being and the protection of mother cows and young babies,” said Proviande in a statement.
They will also help “preserve the good image” of the Swiss beef industry, it added.
Although Proviande’s solution is industry-approved, it will not be legally binding.
It would take too long and be too complicated to create a new law on the subject, Proviande spokesman Peter Schneider told SRF.