Summer Equals Eye Infections

Photos courtesy of Mo. Extension An example of a bad case of pinkeye is shown above.

By Eldon Cole

A panel of three local veterinarians addressed local beef herd health issues at the Monett Beef Cattlemen’s Conference earlier this year. When asked what the number one problem was year-in and year-out, they agreed it was pinkeye.

As summer approaches I’m sure we’ll start hearing about pockets of eye infections around southwest Missouri. To make matters worse this is hay making time, fescue seed harvest and other field activities that require your attention thus you don’t see your cattle as much as you should. Pinkeye needs prompt attention otherwise pesky face flies contribute to the spread of the bacterial disease within the herd.

Each year we see more use of vaccines as a preventive practice but most require a booster for greatest effectiveness. Unfortunately, field work may take priority over working cattle to give the booster. There is an implant in use that doesn’t require the booster the first year, but it is recommended the second year.

The veterinarian panel agreed to really identify the product that would give the most eye protection requires culturing cattle on your farm to be reasonably certain what the best approach would be. Rely on your local veterinarian for advice on what’s working as a treatment and a preventive practice.

In the past Moraxella bovis has been the main pinkeye cause but in recent years Moraxella bovoculi is more prevalent when cultures are made. 

Fly control, especially of face flies, is difficult unless you have self-applying devices such as back rubs, dust bags or you fog or spray regularly. Use of feed through growth regulators may also aid in fly control.

The heritability of resistance to pinkeye is rather low but keep records of cattle that have problems and those that seem to be tolerant and use that information when making culling and selection decisions.

Proper treatment of pinkeye.
Self treating fly control device.