Zebra Striping may be the answer to cattle farmers’ pest problem

The five dairy cows produce 70 to 80 liters of milk daily; four calves of 6-8 months old; and tons of manure which are converted to high-value organic fertilizer.

A team of Japanese researchers have found an interesting way to reduce the attacks of biting flies on cows without the conventional use of pesticides− and it is as easy as painting them black and white.

Biting flies are often perceived as a mere annoyance, but it is actually one of the major causes of distress of livestock as it hinders the cows’ productivity and health. And when cows are exposed to health risks, it is not just one or two,but the whole cattle industry that suffers from production loss.

According to a recently published study, painting ‘zebra-stripes’ on cows is an effective way to shoo away pests. To prove this claim, the team studied six cows where each is painted black and white and put under observation for 3 days.

Results of the experiment have shown that the cows have exhibited less fly-repelling movements like stomping their feet and wagging their tails which indicate that they are less bothered by the pests.

In addition to that, the same cows were observed with just black paint to test whether it’s just the chemical component of the pesticide that deters the flies. 

Moreover, samples were also put under observation without any paint, wherein results still evidently showed less number of biting flies on striped-painted cows than those on unpainted cows and those that were just painted black.

The supposed reason behind this is that zebra stripes, or merely the color black and white, confuses the motion detection system of the insects preventing them to land on their target.

The study still needs to be done on a larger scale and a longer time period, but once the validity of this is tested; this measure can be a whole alternative to livestock farmers’ rule of thumb, which is commonly geared towards using harmful pesticides that may not always be healthy or practical.

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