Pink eye is a highly contagious disease that can spread through your beef herd like wildfire, and cause significant production losses. Spring through to late summer provides the perfect conditions for Pink Eye to establish through a herd.

What is it?

  • Caused by Bacteria Moraxella bovis (different to sheep pink eye).
  • Highly contagious eye disease.
  • Affects all ages of cattle but affects younger cattle more.
  • From exposure to infection takes 2-3 days.


Risk factors:

  • Dust, high stocking rate, flies and grazing cattle low on stalky pastures (scratches their eyes) are all risk factors for pink eye spread.
  • High risk season is spring through to late summer.


What does it do?

  • Causes ulceration of the eye beginning as pinpoint ulcers
  • Untreated eyes will progress rapidly to ruptured eyes and permanent blindness in one or both eyes.
  • This is a very painful condition and consequentially will result in decreased growth rates and/or poor body condition in affected animals.



  • Isolation of infected animals ASAP is key to reducing the spread of pink eye. This includes separate grazing as it can last on the pasture for weeks.
  • In early stages it can be treated with topical antibiotics. Regardless of how they look, both eyes need to be treated (start with the better eye then move to the diseased eye).

Because it is highly contagious and is likely to cause significant production losses and animal welfare issues it is important to get a vet out to assess. Often the animals require subconjunctival injections, and third eyelid flaps which are veterinary procedures.



  • Avoid grazing calves on long pasture. This will reduce irritation of their eyes, and reduce contact with grass already contaminated by affected animals.
  • Avoid grazing low on stalky pastures to minimize scratching of the eyes.
  • Avoid overcrowding, especially in dusty conditions.
  • Control flies.
  • Remove affected animals as soon as possible, and keep isolated until recovered which can be up to 60 days.
  • Vaccinate.
10 September 2018, 00:17