Wednesday, 21 November 2018

einn af hjörðinni

The BBC Monitoring desk reports that one of the most anticipated annual registries among Icelandic shepherds (and we suppose among eligible sheep as well) has just been published with profiles of the country’s most sought-after ram bachelors, continuing a tradition of two decades of showcasing sires and obituaries for those who passed away since the last issue.
Seeing these impressive sets of horns reminded me that the release of the catalogue is coinciding with a plebiscite—direct democracy in action—taking place in Switzerland over the weekend on animal welfare, with voting finally taking place after an eight-year struggle to hold the referendum. At stake is the right for cow and goat farmers to receive special dispensation and compensation (due to the accommodations and bigger stalls required to safely rear the animals) who choose not to dehorn their herds. About a quarter of Swiss livestock are of the horned variety. The referendum’s human champion wants to take the question of economics out of the decision—which sounds rather ghastly and traumatising—and calls for subsidies instead of indignities.