Escaped cows cause chaos on Copenhagen highway

A sizeable herd of cows was the cause of an unusual traffic alert in Copenhagen on Monday afternoon.

Escaped cows cause chaos on Copenhagen highway
Not the Copenhagen cows from the story. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

After apparently breaking loose from their field, the cows crossed Vejlands Allé in the Amager district – one of the busiest roads taking traffic into the centre of the capital.

“Is there a cowboy present?”, Copenhagen Police wrote on Twitter as they sought to clear the bovine backlog.

Police estimated around 12-15 cows to be on the road in a further Twitter post, but duty officer Michael Andersen told news agency Ritzau that number may be as many as 25.

“The cows have sneaked over the guard rail and are now located near the lake between Vejlands Allé and the city centre connection,” police wrote on Twitter.

The animals were subsequently prevented from further wandering into the road by police motorcycles.

“We are doing everything we can to keep them away from the road, so you can get home safely. It is not easy to catch a cow when you’re on a motorbike,” police tweeted.

By 3pm on Monday, traffic was flowing normally on the road, although police advised drivers to use other routes if possible.

The cows were still close to the asphalt and would have to cross back over at some point, police said, adding they were working on locating the owner of the herd.

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EXPLAINED: What is Denmark’s ‘cow spring break’ all about?

Organic farms in Denmark released cows from barns at 12pm on Sunday, with the animals roaming enthusiastically onto the fields as tens of thousands of spectators looked on.

EXPLAINED: What is Denmark's 'cow spring break' all about?
Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

The annual tradition of celebrating the end of cows’ winter enclosure took place at midday on Sunday, when cows were released on to the grass at 59 organic farms across the country.

The event gives the public an important chance to see agriculture at first-hand, said Per Kølster, chairperson of interest organisation Økologisk Landsforening (National Organic Association).

“This is about being open, trustworthy and about the good feeling that can come from seeing these wonderful animals when they jump around on the grass,” Kølster told Ritzau.

“The trust upon which organic is built can be seen with your own eyes,” he added.

Last year, over 200,000 people in Denmark went to see the release of the cows at farms around the country.

Kølster said his assessment was that just as many had turned out this year to see the event sometimes referred to as the ‘cows’ spring break’.

“Interest is actually huge. That’s down to the animals. And this is because their joy is so clear,” he said.

Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

The head of Økologisk Landsforening said he was in no doubt as to why the cows reacted as they did, running out on to the grass and jumping up and down to the delight of spectators.

“It can only be explained by one thing, and that’s excitement. They know that spring is coming. It’s just like a racing horse flying out of the traps,” he said.

“They only have one thing on their minds, and that’s to get out there and experience the grass. It’s very energetic,” he added.

Not everyone shares Kølster’s enthusiasm for the event. Local media TV2 Østjylland reported that vegans attended events in protest, while activist organisation Vegan Change was critical of what it likened to a 'Disneyfication' of agriculture.

“(Visitors) don’t see that cows walk around in cow dung for the rest of the year, or that they are damaged by all of the milk they are forced to produce. They don’t see calves and mothers being separated after 24 hours, or when cows are sent to the slaughter and are killed by a bolt pistol to the head and a knife to the throat,” Sophia Nox, a spokesperson for the group, told TV2 Østjylland.

Kølster told the media that it was the “clear democratic right” of vegans to demonstrate.

“The vegans’ project is very respectable. It’s fine for them to take a critical view of agriculture. But I can’t imagine farmers would show up to demonstrate at a day of celebration for vegans,” he said.

READ ALSO: Escaped cows cause chaos on Copenhagen highway