New research from the scientists in Australia has revealed that painting eyes on the backsides of cows could save their lives.
Farmers in New Zealand might want to pause before jumping in on the practice too quickly though, as the move is designed to protect the stock from predators like lions and leopards.
"Lions are ambush predators that rely on stalking, and therefore the element of surprise, so being seen by their prey can lead to them abandoning the hunt," said Dr Neil Jordan from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), who was one of the study's leaders.
"We tested whether we could hack into this response to reduce livestock losses, potentially protecting lions and livelihoods at the same time."
Researchers from Taronga Conservation Society Australia and Botswana Predator Conservation also took part in the study.
Having fake eyes is nothing new in nature, with some species of butterflies, fish, and birds, among others, evolving such features.
But up to now no mammals are known to have natural eye-shaped patterns to deter predators.
"To our knowledge, our research is the first time eyespots have been shown to deter large mammalian predators," said UNSW PhD student Cameron Radford, who was also involved in the study.
Researchers worked with farmers in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana to paint cattle in 14 herds that had recently suffered lion attacks.
They painted one-third of each herd with an artificial eyespot design on the rump, one-third with simple cross-marks and left the rest of the herd unmarked.
The researchers found that cattle painted with artificial eyespots were "significantly more likely" to survive than unpainted or cross-painted cattle in the same herd.
During the four years of study, no cattle with painted eyes were killed by predators, researchers said. That compared to 15 unpainted cows and four cross-painted cows which died in attacks.
Researchers said the "hack" could be a cheap way for farmers in some parts of the world to offer protection for their cattle.
“We're hoping this simple, low-cost, non-lethal approach could reduce the costs of coexistence for those farmers bearing the brunt," said Dr Jordan.