Pinkeye Prevention Preferred


Download PDF

An little protection can outweigh a lot of cure  

Pinkeye affects more than 10 million calves in the United States annually, which results in substantial economic losses due to lost production, reduced weaning weights, and the time and expense that goes along with treatment. Market research has shown animals with pinkeye are commonly discounted $10-12 per hundred pounds of body weight when sold at auction.1  So, when you add it all up, costs from pinkeye can cost producers well over $100 a head. All of this, not to mention pinkeye is painful for the cattle, can add up to undeniable reasons to prevent the costly disease before it gets a chance to start. 

According to a quantitative research study conducted by Farm Journal, over one-half of responding beef producers with a herd impacted by pinkeye reported losses due to a reduced sale weight, with culled animals costing them the most at an average of $337 per animal.

Dairy operations also suffer economically from pinkeye outbreaks. “If you have a dairy heifer infected with pinkeye she won’t grow as well, so you'd have to feed her longer before she can have her first calf,” says Lowell Midla, VMD, MS, veterinary technical services manager with Merck Animal Health and a beef cattle producer. “Remember, it's only after having her first calf that a dairy cow starts to make money via lactation. So, if it takes longer to get her there, that's a cost.” The same Farm Journal quantitative study put milk losses due to pinkeye antibiotic treatment at an average of $352 per head.2 

On the flip side, the Farm Journal study results showed that 94% of the responding dairy producers and 73% of the responding beef producers who vaccinated their animals reported a positive return on their vaccine investment. Those are significant percentages. Midla, who raises more than 80 registered Polled Herefords, has seen firsthand the benefits of vaccination. “For the last four years, we have used both Moraxella bovis and Moraxella bovoculi vaccines at home, and we have not had pinkeye.” 

Remember, pinkeye losses can well exceed $100 per incidence for your clients. So, if you can prevent the disease effectively, they’ll most likely see it reflected in their bottom line. Work with your clients to determine the best course of action for pinkeye prevention in their operation.

For more information on managing pinkeye, visit


For more information on pinkeye vaccination, visit


The economic effects of a herd pinkeye outbreak can be severe. Reduced average weight gains of 17 pounds have been documented in calves with one eye affected and 30 to 65 pounds when both eyes were infected. The incidence of pinkeye is usually higher in calves, but breeding-age animals are also affected.3

 1 University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, 2007, Tennessee dairy cattle pest control profile, (Jan. 25, 2022).
2 Merck Animal Health Pinkeye Quantitative Survey, 2021, Farm Journal, Lenexa, KS., Cattle Producer’s Library, Reference #CL678.


Sponsored by Merck Animal Health


Latest News

Is Grass-Fed Beef Healthier or Better for the Environment?

Oklahoma State University meat scientist Gretchen Mafi has studied the scientific differences between beef that comes from animals finished on a grain diet versus those animals finished on grass.

How To Give a Calf Electrolytes, The Dehydration Lifeline

Electrolytes can serve as a needed boost for a scouring calf. Here's a look at what’s in electrolyte products, how much electrolytes should be given and a few ways and tips on how to give electrolytes to a calf.

Colostrum Management A Cornerstone For Dairy Calf Health

Dairies have made great strides in managing colostrum, but about 14% of calves fail to get passive transfer of antibodies. There is still opportunity to improve upon this, encourages Sandra Godden, DVM.

Be Prepared, Wheat Pasture Bloat on the Rise

As growing conditions improve on wheat pastures that have been grazed short all winter long, the threat of bloat rises. Here's how to combat the onset of bloat in grazing calves.

Cows Will Tell You What is Wrong with a Facility Design

As we transition the cows into a new facility, take time to watch the cows' usage of the facility. Cow behavior in the facility will indicate what may need to be adjusted.

What Does the Drought of 2022 Mean for Lactating Pairs in the Spring of 2023?

While some parts of the U.S. remain in drought conditions and the soil moisture profile is in a deficit due to months of below normal precipitation, grass growth will likely be impacted this spring.