Researchers strapped bells to 100 cows on farms in Switzerland, some of which made a sound, and others that did not. After observing the animals, the team found that the cows with ringing bells actually ate for shorter amounts of time and chewed their cud far less than those allowed to graze in relative silence.
But more than just being annoying, some believe the bells are actually cruel.
Swiss news site TheLocal.ch reports that the study supports the claims of animal welfare activists who have long been anti-cowbell.
"We didn't need long university research to tell us that the bells are not beneficial to cows," says Lolita Morena, who suggests the bells be banned. "Farmers will just have to spend a bit more time finding their cows in bad weather, like shepherds do. It's difficult work... but they chose it."
Some have suggested the bells be replaced with microchips or GPS devices to making tracking cattle easier (and quieter), but critics of that idea say it goes against time-honored tradition.