Bern, November 26: In a historic referendum on Sunday, voters in Switzerland rejected a proposal to end dehorning of cows. While 54 per cent of the electorate voted against the proposal, 46 per cent voted in its favour. The government, which had voiced its apprehensions against subsidising farmers with horned bovines, has welcomed the referendum outcome.
The referendum was a result of an 8-year-long campaign led by farmer Armin Capaul. According to Capaul -- who has been rearing cattle since childhood -- bovines use horns for communication and internal body regulation. Removing the horns turn them "depressed", he had argued.
Capaul's campaign was supported by the animal rights' movement, which claimed that the horn is part of the bovine's dignity.
Had the majority of Swiss voters lended support to end dehorning of cows, the government would had to incur an annual expenditure of 30 million Swiss francs, in form of subsidies for farmers.
Since the horned animals require more grazing space, as well as larger shelter homes, the government would had to shell out 190 Swiss franc ($191.65) annual subsidy per horned animal each year.
Nearly 75 percent of cows in Switzerland, which are considered to be a symbol of Swiss national pride, are dehorned or genetically hornless. Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said allowing farmers to keep horns could hinder the safety of livestock, as well as humans.
On the rejection of Capaul's proposal, Schneider-Ammann said the results prove that animal rights' standards are "already high" in the Alpine nation.