For strong wool sheep, lice infection is a nuisance more than a hefty financial cost. But, for fine wool sheep the financial toll is much greater.
Zebras and their gaudy coats have long intrigued scientists, spawning theories on how and why a few equine species developed stripes. A consensus emerged: the zigzag pattern was an evolutionary response to biting insects, especially carriers of deadly diseases. Insects, it seems, have a harder time landing on striped surfaces than solid-colored ones.
If it works for wild horses in Africa, why not cows in a Japanese pasture? So pondered the staff of the Aichi Agricultural Research Center, near the city of Nagoya. Together with agri school colleagues at Kyoto University, the center decided to experiment on its herd of Japanese black cattle. The white-striped cows sustained only half as many bug attacks as either of the other groups.