STOCKTON, Mo. — “Pinkeye reduces calf weight gain, cow milk production, calf sale price and increase treatment costs which negatively impact profitability of a cattle operation,” says Patrick Davis University of Missouri Extension Livestock Field Specialist. Reduction of cattle herd pinkeye potentially improves cattle operation performance and profitability. As cattle pinkeye potential increases with the fly season beginning, Davis shares thoughts on how to reduce the incidence of pinkeye in the cattle herd.
“The main culprit bacteria that causes pinkeye is Moraxella bovis,” says Davis. However, eye irritation is important for the invasion of the bacterium leading to pinkeye.
“Face flies irritate the eye and transmit the bacteria that causes pink eye so methods to control these flies should reduce the incidence of pinkeye,” says Davis. He urges cattle producers to utilize the best fly control method for their operation. Some methods include backrubbers, dust bags, insecticide tags and strips, sprays, insecticides, and oral larvicides.
“Reduction of eye irritants like plant material and dust will reduce the incidence of pinkeye,” says Davis. Davis urges cattle producers to graze or clip pastures properly to reduce the incidence of eye irritation.
“Genetic selection may help reduce pinkeye incidence in your cattle herd,” says Davis. Iowa State University research has shown that heritability for pinkeye resistance is 0.11. The trait is lowly heritable, meaning there is small potential for reduction by selection. Davis urges cattle producers to breed for pigmentation around the eye and introduce Brahman breeding into the cattle herd as this might help reduce pinkeye incidence.
“Consult a veterinarian on methods of prevention and treatment,” says Davis. There are vaccines available that may help to reduce incidence in cattle operations. Furthermore, if pinkeye issues arise, a veterinarian can be very helpful in devising a plan to treat the problem. Davis urges cattle producers to work with your local large animal veterinarian to develop vaccine and or treatment strategies to reduce the negative impact of pinkeye in your cattle operation.
For more information on how to reduce the incidence of pinkeye in your cattle to improve operation profitability contact your local MU Extension Livestock Field Specialist.
— University of Missouri Extension
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