Cowbells have long been associated with green pastures and herds of happy cows, especially in Switzerland, where the cowbell is a natural cultural symbol. However, according to new research from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, cows actually despise those bells, and can actually sustain permanent hearing damage from them.
The researchers studied more than 100 cows who wore 12-pound cowbells at 25 farm across Switzerland. What they found was that the cowbells could actually lead to deafness in the cows that wear them.
Cowbells create noise levels between 100 and 113 decibels, which is somewhere close to the noise level of a jackhammer. The legal sound limit in Switzerland is just 85 decibels. In addition to the hearing damage that the cows sustained, the cows who wore the cowbells actually shewed their food less than those that weren’t wearing cowbells.
Farmers have been using cowbells to track down cows that have escaped from their farm for centuries. Some farmers have expressed a reluctance to replace cowbells with GPS chips, as many researchers have suggested, as it could harm the country’s image, since cowbells are a symbol of Swiss heritage.
“It would be the end of a myth, of an image of Switzerland,” Swiss Tourism spokesperson Véronique Kanel told The Local, a national newspaper. “However, our mountains also have other assets, including silence, which is what people are also seeking when they go to the Alps.”
Read more about the story at The Huffington Post.