Device for Herding Cattle

Domat/Ems, around 1960

Herding cattle used to be a task mostly performed by children. In the rough environment of a rural society they were usually addressed as «Buob», which means boy. After the Second World War the «Buob» was replaced by devices for herding cattle such as this one. It contains a battery that electrifies a closed circuit made of wire or tape via cable and clamp. When an animal touches the pasture fence, it receives an electric shock.

Mechanization and electrification are pivotal developments in agriculture in the 20th century. The device illustrates this period of change, functioning as a so-called «Schwellenobjekt» [threshold object] in the Museum’s collection. It has been aptly named «boy».