Horny is­sue goes to vote

Shepparton News - Country News - - WOMEN IN AG FORUM -

Switzer­land is set to vote on an is­sue of na­tional im­por­tance that has di­vided the alpine coun­try: whether to sub­sidise farm­ers who let their cows’ and goats’ horns grow nat­u­rally.

The ref­er­en­dum on pre­serv­ing the ‘‘dig­nity of live­stock’’ was ini­ti­ated by farmer Ar­min Ca­paul, 66, a self-de­scribed rebel.

He says that ‘‘lis­ten­ing’’ to his cows in­spired his nine-year cam­paign for cash to fund the ex­tra graz­ing space horned an­i­mals need and which he hopes will re­duce de­horn­ing.

‘‘We must re­spect cows as they are. Leave them their horns. When you look at them they al­ways hold their head high and are proud.

‘‘When you re­move the horns, they are sad,’’ he said.

Three-quar­ters of Swiss cows, who are a na­tional sym­bol and tourist at­trac­tion, are de­horned or ge­net­i­cally horn­less.

Mr Ca­paul, who says horns help cows com­mu­ni­cate and reg­u­late their body tem­per­a­ture, wants a 190 Swiss franc ($A261) an­nual sub­sidy per horned an­i­mal for farm­ers.

When po­lit­i­cal lob­by­ing failed, he col­lected more than 100 000 sig­na­tures to trig­ger a na­tional vote.

The lat­est poll says the vote is too close to call.

His cam­paign is likely to garner sup­port from those who op­pose de­horn­ing.

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