A challenging year for pinkeye

Written by Dr Bronte Sutton (Sutton’s Livestock)

Hot dry conditions have meant a challenging year for pinkeye, with some local mobs unfortunately experiencing high disease levels in not just young stock but cow and bull mobs. Where some 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 stock 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 mob. Likewise, treatment choice will depend on severity of the cases and number of animals involved. Note the main reasons for treatment failure being 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.


If current trends prevail, it will be important to look to prevention options in young stock in the coming year, especially when several risk factors are present (early weaning, dry dusty conditions, high fly burden, young stock). Prevention strategies include:

  1. Vaccination – Piliguard single dose, complete at least 4 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.
  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

Disclaimer: The above is a guide only. Discuss your direct requirements with your farm veterinarian.

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