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A recap on bovine pinkeye

Its later in the summer than usual, but pinkeye has really got going this month, with some local mobs unfortunately experiencing high disease levels in not just young stock but cow and bull mobs. Where we have traditionally regarded pinkeye as a self-limiting process, with little intervention needed; no-one can ignore that occurrence and severity appears to be increasing, and prevention and treatment strategies are needed to prevent serious production, and sale value losses.


It is important to consider the range of treatment options and their relative efficacy and cost when determining how to best address pinkeye in your cattle. Likewise, treatment choice will depend on severity of the cases and number of animals involved. Note the main reasons for treatment failure are delayed intervention and inappropriate route or frequency of treatment.

*Special treatments: in very high value stock, temporary surgical closure of the eyelids to promote healing and reduce scaring risk can be considered.

General Prevention

Pinkeye is a multifactorial disease . Key risk factors include; dry dusty conditions, high fly burden, immunocompromised stock and young stock. Prevention strategies include:

  1. Vaccination – Piliguard single dose, complete at least 6 weeks before risk period begins (realistically this means completing at calf marking if preparing for an early wean). Unfortunately, this only protects against one of the many causative strains, but with lack of other effective options it is the cornerstone of prevention. Autogenous (custom made to specific farm pathogens) are now available, but the trials we have done have not found them to be protective.

  2. Fly prevention is vital especially in high intensity situations like drought feed pads and early weaning. Pour-on insecticides (eg: Coopers Easy Dose) can offer up to 6 weeks protection and are relatively cheap on a per head basis. Fly traps are also worthwhile in intensive feeding scenarios.

  3. Reduce environmental irritants (water down yards and feed pads)

  4. Consider supplementing with injectable Vitamin ADE in early weaning and drought feeding cases where access to green feed is limited


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