Farmers in Bavaria are angry that their Alpine dairy cows will apparently have to wear nappies under European Union environmental laws.
Johann Huber, whose family has farmed on the mountain slopes of Gmund am Tegernsee for more than 400 years, has begun putting homemade nappies on his 18 cows to avoid falling foul of an EU fertiliser ban.
Mr Huber said that his cow Doris had not objected to being fitted with a homemade nappy to prevent it dropping cow pats on the Alpine slopes. "We have no standard nappies, they have not been developed commercially yet," he said.
The Bavarian farm union is protesting against the EU nitrates directive that, it claims, has led to a ban on fertilisers, such as the manure left behind by their cows, on any mountain slope with a gradient of more than 15 per cent.
"We demand that the ban is stopped in Germany," said Anton Kreitmair, the association's president in Upper Bavaria.
"In Bavaria no fertilisation would be possible on half the cultivated land and restrictions would be needed on cows grazing in Alpine pastures."
Farmers in breach of the EU nitrates directive face losing their European agricultural subsidies, a penalty that would drive Bavaria's mountain farmers out of business.
The European Commission has denied the EU has responsibility and pointed to how Germany has implemented the legislation. The commission has begun legal action against Germany for failing to enforce the EU directive which restricts "land application of fertilisers to steeply sloping ground, to avoid leaching of nitrates and water pollution".
"The nitrates directive does not foresee a ban on grazing animals on sloping land," said a spokesman for the EC. "Germany is revising its national nitrates action programme. However, it is not likely that the German authorities will propose any ban on grazing animals on sloping land."
A Brussels source added: "Bavarian farmers should raise this issue with the German Federal authorities in Berlin, rather than with the Commission in Brussels."
The 23-year-old EU legislation has proved difficult to enact across Europe and Germany has been forced to introduce new regulations after the commission threatened to fine Berlin earlier this summer.