Why do cows have bells?

As you may have noticed, in some regions, especially in the mountains, cows have large bells tied around their necks. But what is their purpose? Don’t the animals go crazy from hearing the sound of the bells at the slightest movement?

To spot runaways

The sound of the bells is generally associated with the mountain pastures, with their cows and meadows as far as the eye can see. And just as cows are sacred in India, in the mountains the bells of the cows are an integral part of the local heritage. And for good reason, these bells are not only there for the folklore, they have a very important utility.

In fact, for millennia, cattle breeders have found THE solution to easily locate a beast that would have been lost in the vastness of the prairies: the bells. By tying bells around the necks of their cows, they are able to find them even when it is dark or foggy, just by the sound of their bells.

Because in the mountains, cows are not always kept in closed places. They regularly graze in very extensive pastures. In addition, the fences are sometimes so thin and the cows so smart (yes!) that it is not uncommon for them to escape in search of greener grass.

To keep out predators

Another reason for the presence of bells on the necks of cows is the desire to scare off predators lurking in the mountains. Indeed, wolves and bears in particular are particularly sensitive to noise. Thus, for thousands of years, breeders have been betting on the fact that this sound keeps them away from their animals.

Even if the effectiveness of bells in keeping out predators is not proven, other beliefs well anchored in the collective imagination, especially in the 19th century, have pushed farmers to equip their cows with bells. Indeed, the noise emitted by these last ones would also make flee the snakes, the storms or the bad spells?

The bells are controversial

In recent years, voices have been raised to question the usefulness of cowbells. Indeed, some local residents, tired of the noise nuisance caused by the sound of the bells, have decided to go to war against these historical objects. Their wish? That the breeders remove the bells from the neck of their cows at least at night so that they can sleep peacefully. Unfortunately, these demands tend to annoy the farmers, who are very attached to their history and traditions.

In addition, animal advocates also take the position that the bells should be removed from the cows once and for all. Why? For the simple reason that it would prevent them from sleeping and developing properly. They invoke animal welfare on the basis of a Swiss study conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. This study revealed that cowbells create a noise level comparable to that of a jackhammer. Thus, the researchers believe that most cattle are already deaf. Especially since their hearing is much more sensitive than ours…