Ask the Vet

Pinkeye Problems?

Eye problems in cattle can be caused by a lot of different things, even seed in hay or grass. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo by Benjamin Krain)


I have a cow with pinkeye. None of the others in the herd are affected. I've given this cow two different antibiotics, but it only seems to have gotten worse. What do I need to do?


We get a lot of questions about pinkeye, but this may be less about pinkeye and more about infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis.

When a cow gets an infected or irritated eye, always consider the possibility the eye was scratched eating from a bale of hay, or the cow got seed in her eye. I have removed a lot of things from cows' eyes over the years. Sometimes grass seed, sometimes another type of foreign object that has become stuck behind the third eyelid.

Squamous cell carcinoma, or cancer eye, is another common eye problem that can show up any time of the year.

None of these things will respond to antibiotics. This is a good example of a case where if your initial treatment doesn't produce the results you'd expect, get your veterinarian out to take another look.


Editor's Note:

Please contact your veterinarian with questions pertaining to the health of your herd or other animals. Every operation is unique, and the information in this column does not pertain to all situations. This is not intended as medical advice but is purely for informational purposes.

Write Dr. Ken McMillan at Ask the Vet, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email