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June 27, 2023

In Switzerland, little is happening at the political level to implement the ban on tethering. We show here the developments of the last years!

Last updated on May 07,2024

Keeping cattle tethered all year round is prohibited in Switzerland. However, it is permitted to keep the animals tethered if they have access to a loose run for 90 days a year. This means that cattle may be kept tethered 275 days a year. Currently, it does not look like a ban on seasonal tethering is coming – partly because there is a strong lobby for tie-stall housing in Switzerland.

2007 Tie-stall housing is classified as not animal welfare friendly

In a hearing on the amendment of the Structural Improvement Ordinance, the so-called incentive strategy is being negotiated. The aim of the state-funded incentive strategy is to provide greater support for the construction and expansion of particularly welfare-friendly animal housing systems (BTS). In concrete terms, this involves a 20 percent surcharge for investment aid. Tethered stables are not considered welfare-friendly and are therefore not eligible for subsidies.

A majority of the cantons, many parties and organizations are in favor of the incentive strategy. Six cantons, the Swiss Farmers' Union and ten farmers' organizations as well as the Swiss People's Party (SVP) oppose the proposed strengthening of this incentive strategy. The Social Democratic Party (SP), animal welfare organizations and the WWF demand that no more investment support be granted to non-BTS stables or that support be shifted more in favor of BTS stables (1).

(1) Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz (2007). Artgerechte und wirtschaftliche Tierhaltung. Investitionshilfen und Strukturverbesserungen. Motion.

2014 Proponents fight for tie-stall housing

Due to the concern that tie-stall housing is financially disadvantaged in contrast to other housing systems, the Interest group (IG) tie-stall housing is founded. In exchanges with politicians, the interest group points out the alleged advantages of tethered housing.  

The National Council submits a written proposal (motion) of the member of parliament Erich von Siebenthal (SVP) to the Federal Council. The motion asks the Federal Council not to discriminate against tethered stables. The majority of the National Council agrees with von Siebenthal that such a disadvantage in the system is "clearly noticeable" (2).

The Federal Council asks to reject the motion. The statement says that tethering is considered species-appropriate in Swiss animal welfare legislation for cattle four months of age and older. Tethered housing is subsidized both through RAUS contributions ("Animal Welfare Program," which requires regular outdoor exercise) and with interest-free, repayable investment loans from the federal government. Therefore, the Federal Council does not consider the freedom of decision of the farmers to use a stall house to be restricted by the federal legislation (3).

(2) von Siebenthal, E. [Fraktion der Schweizerischen Volkspartei] (2014, 25.09.). Keine Benachteiligung der Anbindeställe. Motion.

(3) von Siebenthal, E. [Fraktion der Schweizerischen Volkspartei] (2014, 25.09.). Keine Benachteiligung der Anbindeställe. Motion.

2021 Factory farming initiative is rejected

In 2021, the majority of Swiss voters rejected the factory farming initiative with 62.9% of the votes against. Among other things, the initiative calls for animal-friendly housing and access to the outdoors for all animals in agriculture. 

The Federal Council then submitted a counter-proposal. It addresses the issues of housing, outdoor access and slaughter. In these areas, the minimum requirements are to be raised. In the case of tethered cattle, however, the counter-proposal does not provide for a ban, but only for daily outdoor access (8).

(8) Schweizer Bundesrat (2021, 19.05.). Botschaft zur Volksinitiative «Keine Massentierhaltung in der Schweiz (Massentierhaltungsinitiative)» und zum direkten Gegenentwurf (Bundesbeschluss über den Schutz und das Wohlergehen der Tiere). 21.044

Take away

The chronology shows that the agricultural lobby is holding back politicians from consequently implementing a ban on tie-stall housing. Although animal welfare organizations and society have shown resistance to this form of husbandry, which is contrary to animal welfare, for decades.

After decades of discussion, it was decided in Austria in July 2022 that the ban on all-year tethering is to be implemented without exception from 2030. In Germany, the process of amending the Animal Welfare Act, which began in 2023, addresses the phase-out of year-round tethering. In Switzerland, there is currently no significant movement in the discussion. In all three countries seasonal tethering remains permitted. 

This approach has nothing to do with consequent politics! It is far away from what the broad society wants from politics: laws that prohibit animal cruel husbandry. Instead, politics protects the interests of a few at the expense of the animals. What tie-stall housing means for the animals, we show in the article "Tethered - What the outdated form of husbandry means for cattle".

The discourse about tie-stall housing in Switzerland must not be left to the representatives of IG tie-stall housing. They consistently spread untruths about the behavior and welfare of cattle. This is the moment for animal welfare organizations and the committed public to become more active. Now is the time to exert pressure so that tethering is banned once and for all.





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