3-Pronged Approach to Pinkeye Prevention: Education on M. Bovis, Fly Control and Environmental Factors

1) Education on M. Bovis
Pinkeye is caused when bacterial organisms such as Moraxella bovis infect the surface of the eye. Therefore, the first leg of control is vaccination. The best pinkeye vaccines stimulate the production of antibodies in tears that bathe the eye, limit infection and reduce the severity of lesions. To allow adequate development of immunity, vaccinate animals three to six weeks prior to the onset of pinkeye season.

2) Education on fly control
The second key to preventing pinkeye is fly control, because pinkeye can be spread rapidly by face flies that transport bacteria from the eyes of one animal to another. Face flies can travel significant distances between herds and can expose animals to many different strains of Moraxella bovis.

Effective fly control requires customization to your production system. There are several best management practices that most every producer should follow to reduce the impact flies have on the spread of pinkeye.

  • Treat animals of all ages and their premises with an effective, long-lasting and easy to administer insecticide
  • For calves and cows (dairy cows under 21-months of age), apply two insecticide fly tags (one in each ear) per animal, in addition to a low-volume, long-lasting pour-on for rapid knockdown of the existing fly population. Reapply the pour-on as needed
  • For premise control, use an insecticide such as a microencapsulated product that delivers superior, long-lasting control on a wide variety of surfaces in and around livestock facilities
  • Use additional fly-control measures as necessary, such as back-rubbers, oilers and other devices that can be used on pasture
  • When ear tags lose their effectiveness, remove them and apply a final dose of a low-volume pour-on
  • If you believe a product is not working, contact the manufacturer and your animal health provider to discuss the situation and get help
  • Reapply insecticides throughout the fly season, and always follow label directions.

3) Education on environmental factors

Pasture Management
The environment is the third area of focus in preventing pinkeye. Management practices such as pasture mowing, dust control and man-made or natural shades are important to minimize eye irritants, such as pollen, seed heads, dust and ultraviolet light.

These environmental factors cause eye irritation and physical damage, allowing infectious pinkeye organisms to attach to the surface of the eye. These irritants can also cause the eye to tear. Tearing, watery eyes can attract flies, which feed on the watery secretions from the eye and surrounding tissue and spread pinkeye-causing bacteria.

Facilities and hutch management
When it comes to fly control on the dairy or calf raising facilities, sanitation is the key. Eliminate organic debris such as wet, rotting hay, straw, feed, silage and manure. In addition, there are tools to help stop the flies that spread pinkeye-causing bacteria and irritate animals. Premise sprays and pour-on insecticides should be used in a systematic approach to knock down flies during the calves' growing cycle.

Always read and follow label directions.

Dairy Hutch Calf Pinkeye Prevention Protocol
Dairy Replacement Heifers on Pasture Pinkeye Prevention Protocol
Lactating Dairy Cow Pinkeye Prevention Protocol
Beef Cattle Pinkeye Prevention Protocol