Why do the cows have bells?

Old Oct 12th, 1999, 09:35 AM
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Why do the cows have bells?

Does anyone know why the cows in Bavaria have
bells around their necks? I was told it is to keep other animals away. Is that true?
Old Oct 12th, 1999, 10:02 AM
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Because their horns don't work!

Sorry, couldn't resist..no, seriously folks...it has something to do with farmers keeping track of them as they wander around the Alps... very loosely translated definition...
perhaps someone more enlightened could help...
Old Oct 12th, 1999, 01:53 PM
Bob Brown
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In Switzerland, I was told that there were two reasons why all of the grazing animals wear bells: 1. so that they can be found at herding time. 2. as a symbol of milk productivity.

We walked into a remote grazing area up from Murren in the Sefinintal (valley)to a cirque referred to as the Kilchbalm. (Quite a place complete with waterfalls, ice, snow, steep cliffs, trees, and a rapidly flowing stream.) I was amazed to see all of the steep, remote places where cows were grazing. It would be easy to lose one in those thickets without some type of sound to locate them. In Afolten, near Bern, we went to a cheese factory and unexpectedly arrived in time for a cow judging contest. The "high priestesses" among the cows were awarded these huge bells. And the best milkers are also the ones with all of the greenery on their heads when they go up to and come down from the high pastures each spring and fall. I got the distinct impression that that the cows were unimpressed with the bells. Just something heavy to wear around their necks. The largest bells were huge; the straps that held them on were about 8 - 9 inches wide.
I presume that similar reasons exist in Bavaria.
Old Oct 12th, 1999, 01:54 PM
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Linda: The bells are for several reasons, I guess. One is for the farmers to locate and keep track of the cows, another is to ward off wild animals (must be quite rare) and also to move them through town, going to and from pasture.

They do it elsewhere as well.
Old Oct 12th, 1999, 03:21 PM
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The "bell cows" are leaders and the rest of the herd follow them at milking time or when it is time to change pastures.
Old Oct 12th, 1999, 04:04 PM
Cheryl z.
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I've been told all of the above too by locals in Germany, Switzerland, but I think one "reason" too is to make all us tourists happy with the additional ambiance! The countryside wouldn't be the same.
Old Oct 12th, 1999, 05:19 PM
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This past summer a cheesemaker in the Swiss Alps told me that it frequently gets very foggy high in the alpine meadows and it is often difficult to see the cows to bring them in for milking. Even the dog can find them from their bell sound and bring them in. It is especially important if one of the cows is injured climbing steep mountains in the fog!
Old Oct 12th, 1999, 07:36 PM
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Every farmbell has a unique sound, which
is recognised by both germans, the farmer and the shepherd. In this ountry, we just hog-tie 'em and brand 'em --
-- the cows, I mean (!)

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