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Preventing Pinkeye in Cattle: A Comprehensive Approach

Herd of Cows on a farm field during a stormy sunset
June 8, 2023

Preventing Pinkeye in Cattle: A Comprehensive Approach


Pinkeye, or infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK), poses a significant health challenge for cattle, particularly during the summer grazing season. It is a contagious disease that causes inflammation of the cornea and the conjunctiva, leading to potential eye damage and economic losses. High Plains Feed & Seed understands the importance of preventing pinkeye and offers a range of solutions to help cattle producers in the Minot, ND area maintain healthy herds.

Understanding the Causes:

Pinkeye is primarily caused by the bacterium Moraxella bovis (M. bovis), although other infectious organisms such as mycoplasma, chlamydia, and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) may also contribute. Infection can spread through animal-to-animal contact, flies, and contact with contaminated objects. Factors like excessive sunlight, dust, and tall grass increase the risk of infection. Younger animals and stress events like moving livestock or weaning can make cattle more susceptible to pinkeye (Hubbard Feeds, 2023).

Recognizing Clinical Signs:

Early detection of pinkeye is crucial for effective treatment. Within the first few days following infection, cattle may blink frequently, produce excessive tears, and exhibit redness in the conjunctiva of the eye. As the disease progresses, a small ulcer may form in the center of the cornea, which leads to cloudiness and discomfort. If left untreated, the ulcer can spread, resulting in a classic pink appearance and potential eye rupture (Hubbard Feeds, 2023).

Prevention Strategies:

Preventing pinkeye requires a multi-faceted approach. Vaccination is one part of the strategy, and it is important to follow label directions and plan ahead due to the required time for optimal immune response. In cases where commercial vaccines may provide limited success, working with a veterinarian to develop an autogenous vaccine tailored to the specific pathogen responsible for an outbreak can be beneficial (Hubbard Feeds, 2023).

Additionally, reducing the risk of pinkeye involves managing dusty conditions, controlling weeds, and providing shade for animals on pasture. Fly control is crucial to minimizing transmission, and High Plains Feed & Seed offers loose mineral or low moisture block products containing feed-through fly control additives. These products, such as Altosid® IGR and ClariFly®, should be fed at least 30 days prior to the start of fly season. A good vitamin and mineral program, including trace minerals like selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese, can support healthy eye tissue and immune response (Hubbard Feeds, 2023).

Treatment Options:

Early intervention is key to treating pinkeye effectively. Acting upon initial symptoms is crucial. Long-acting antibiotics, such as tetracycline and tulathromycin, are commonly used to kill the causative agent. Topical treatments can provide relief and aid in the healing process. Protecting the eye from sunlight with an eye patch is beneficial, as ultraviolet rays can exacerbate eye damage. While most infected cattle heal within a month or two, a white scar may remain, and reduced eyesight can occur (Hubbard Feeds, 2023).


Preventing pinkeye requires a comprehensive approach. High Plains Feed & Seed understands the challenges associated with this costly disease and offers a range of solutions to help cattle producers in the Minot, ND area. By implementing strategies such as vaccination, fly control, and a balanced vitamin and mineral program, producers can significantly reduce the impact of pinkeye on their herds. Early detection and appropriate treatment are vital to maintaining animal health and performance while minimizing economic losses (Hubbard Feeds, 2023). Contact High Plains Feed & Seed today to learn more about their products and solutions for preventing pinkeye. Visit the original blog post for further information: Hubbard Feeds – Be on the Lookout for Pinkeye This Summer.