The peak season for pinkeye will be here soon, and Norm Stewart, DVM, MS, livestock technical services manager for Merck Animal Health, says control of the disease requires a three-pronged approach – vaccination, environmental management and fly control.  Stewart emphasizes the importance of fly control, because pinkeye can spread rapidly from 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 different strains of Moraxella bovis.       

"This is why vaccination with a broad-spectrum pinkeye vaccine and fly control are such critical legs of the pinkeye prevention stool," Stewart explained.

Effective fly control requires customization to your production system. Stewart suggests the following best management practices to reduce the impact flies have on the spread of pinkeye:

  • Treat animals of all ages and their premises with an insecticide.
  • Use products that are effective, long-lasting and easy to administer.
  • For calves and cows, apply a low-volume pour-on for rapid knockdown of the existing fly population.
  • For growing replacement heifers, apply two ear tags in addition to a low-volume pour-on insecticide.
  • Use an insecticide on the animal's premises, 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 or in the milking parlor as cows exit the facility.
  • Eliminate organic debris such as wet/rotting hay, straw, feed, silage and manure. These are ideal breeding grounds for stable flies.
  • If you believe a product is not working, contact the manufacturer and your animal health provider to discuss the situation and get some help.
  • Reapply insecticides throughout the fly season, and always follow label directions.