Swiss trainee vets to give cows acupuncture in new classes

Swiss trainee vets are to be taught how to treat cows with acupuncture in a first for Switzerland’s agriculture industry.

Swiss trainee vets to give cows acupuncture in new classes
File photo: Mat Hampson
The veterinary department of the University of Bern is to collaborate with an organic farm in Sorens, in the canton of Fribourg, to give students acupuncture classes on a herd of 80 Holstein cows and calves starting in May, Fribourg’s agriculture office said on Wednesday. 
The classes will be given by an Australian specialist in animal acupuncture who is coming to Switzerland specifically for the Fribourg programme.
According to the agriculture office it will be the first time animal acupuncture classes will be held in Switzerland.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted in the body. It is commonly used for pain relief and to treat a wide range of conditions. 
In Switzerland alternative medicine is “in development” as a way of maintaining animal health without the use of antibiotics, said Fribourg’s agriculture office. 
The organic farm Sorens is attached to Grangeneuve, a teaching farm that has worked with Bern University for a decade and is currently collaborating on a project to reduce the use of antibiotics in milk production. 

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How to protect yourself against cow attacks

In the summer months hikers strolling through meadows in Switzerland often underestimate the danger posed by cows.

How to protect yourself against cow attacks

Far from being docile creatures, cows can be aggressive, especially if they are protecting their calves.

Last month a walker suffered broken ribs and vertebrae in an attack by a herd of cows in the canton of Jura.

READ ALSO: Walker seriously injured after being attacked by Swiss cows

Fatal attacks are, thankfully, rare. In 2015 a German tourist was killed by cattle when out walking in the Laax area of Graubünden, prompting the authorities to put up warning signs.

To help avoid further injury, the Blick newspaper has compiled a list of helpful tips on crossing meadows safely.

The Swiss advisory service for agricultural accident prevention BUL recommends walkers avoid:

–       wearing very bright or garishly coloured clothing

–       making loud noises or high-pitched sounds

–       taking a dog with you, as dogs are seen as a threat

–       looking the cow in the eye and sustained eye contact.

The BUL also offers advice to hikers who find themselves at risk of attack:

–       back away slowly but do not avert your gaze

–       use a walking stick to defend yourself if attacked

–       if you have a dog, let it off the lead. The cow will concentrate on the dog instead of you.

The advisory service says the main piece of advice is to always keep quiet when crossing meadows and to observe the behaviour of the herd.

You should also keep as far away from the animals as possible.