Bright-eyed, healthy animals: Pinkeye can really take a toll during drought conditions. Mr Watson says the main building block to a successful livestock business starts with healthy and happy animals.

Bright-eyed, healthy animals: Pinkeye can really take a toll during drought conditions. Mr Watson says the main building block to a successful livestock business starts with healthy and happy animals.

The Coopers Couch E3: Ongoing dry creates the perfect storm for Pinkeye

The Coopers Couch E3: Ongoing dry creates the perfect storm for Pinkeye


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Sponsored content: Cases of pinkeye are on the rise across the country due to the dry and dusty conditions bought on by drought, but there is a solution.

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This article is sponsored by Coopers Animal Health.

Around Holbrook, in southern New South Wales, Andy Watson is known as the “Vaccine King”.

It’s a crown he wears proudly, as the health and happiness of his animals is paramount, along with passion for leaving his 1200 hectare property in top condition for generations to come.

Check out the third episode in Nine Agricultural Media and Coopers' continuous series, The Coopers Couch.

Check out the third episode in Nine Agricultural Media and Coopers' continuous series, The Coopers Couch.

Mr Watson has planted more than 70,000 trees at his farm, Forest Vale, over the past 10 years, fenced off creeks and reinvigorated the land which supports a 800 head strong herd of spring calving cows.

His black baldy operation is EU accredited and it is clear from his strict and rigorous vaccination program that he cares a great deal about his animals.

Mr Watson says it’s not only the animals that benefit from his commitment to their health with Coopers Animal Health products, but also his hip pocket.

“The main building block to a successful livestock business obviously is healthy and happy animals,’’ Mr Watson says.

Stress free cattle that move forward every day are his end game.

“You’ve got to be at the cutting edge. You’ve got to use all avenues of technologies to make sure their health is 100 per cent,” Mr Watson says.

He says health challenges with cattle change monthly, rapidly and, sometimes, with devastating outcomes. 

Painful: Pinkeye is a painful condition that if left untreated can render cattle blind.

Painful: Pinkeye is a painful condition that if left untreated can render cattle blind.

“You’ve just got to be aware of it and have preventative measures in place, so if you get an issue, you know how to deal with it.’’

The ongoing drought has lead to dusty and dry conditions, creating a perfect storm for pinkeye this season. 

“All those seasonal factors, you can generally manipulate them, but in drought times you can’t,’’ he says.

“Pinkeye is shocking. From an animal welfare point of view, it’s ugly and it hurts – we all know how it hurts our own eyes.”

“From an economic point of view, we lose out because a feedlot will reject that animal. Any export heifer will be rejected on any slight scarring. Animals with pink eye don’t eat. If they get it in both eyes, that’s blind and they struggle.’’

Mr Watson has a remedy to treat pink eye in his cattle – ointment in the eye then covered with a denim patch liquid nailed to completely cover the eye – but he says protection with Coopers Bovilis Piliguard Pinkeye Vaccine is the better approach to the serious issue.

Herd mentality: Mr Watson said even if pinkeye presents in a herd, it is not too late to vaccinate using Coopers Bovilis Piliguard as he had seen it reduce the impact.

Herd mentality: Mr Watson said even if pinkeye presents in a herd, it is not too late to vaccinate using Coopers Bovilis Piliguard as he had seen it reduce the impact.

“About four years ago, I did a trial where I vaccinated 200 cows with Piliguard and 200 without it… there was a 5 per cent difference and that’s why I use it,’’ he said.

“You can’t afford not to. I had 100 heifers booked in for China and I had 20 rejected because of pinkeye. That was a $300 a head cost so right there, that was $6000.’’

Now a standard part of the Forest Vale vaccination program, calves get a first shot of Coopers Tasvax 8 in 1 and Coopers Bovilis MH+IBR at eight weeks old, then get the Coopers Bovilis Piliguard vaccine a month later when they get their second shot of those vaccines.

Once a pinkeye outbreak has started, strategies need to be assessed based on individual situations to achieve the best control and to minimise the number of new cases.

This article is sponsored by Coopers Animal Health.

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