There are few things more typically Alpine than the gentle ringing of cow bells, but one Austrian farmer has been fined because those of his herd were too noisy, authorities said Thursday.

Two families in the village of Stallhofen in the southeastern Austrian state of Styria filed a complaint with a local court, which ruled in their favour, the president of the court Gerhard Goedl told AFP.

"The court ruled that the manner in which the farmer kept his cows was unbearable for his neighbours," Goedl said of the ruling which was published this week.

The problem, he explained, was that the cows' bells were banging against a metal water trough in their field as they drank, even at night.

The farmer refused to remove the bells or the trough or to pay a fine of 100 euros ($120), saying the bells were traditional. But the court rejected his appeal, saying there was no need for the bells near a residential area.