News & Advice

Cancer Eye in Cattle

May 9, 2018 | Beef cattle, Dry stock, Dry stock animal health & welfare

While pregnancy testing beef cows in the autumn, we often see cows with cancer in or around their eyes. The question often asked is “what can be done?”

The options with any animal with cancer eye are:

  • Surgical removal – many cancers of the eye and eyelid can be successfully treated by surgical removal. If the cancer has already spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes this is not an option, but surgery can extend the productive life of the animal and/or allow disposal to the freezing works rather than pet food or on-farm slaughter.
  • Send the animal to the works – certificates can be given if the size and condition of the lesion meets stated criteria:
    “An animal can only be transported to slaughter provided the cancer is confined to the eye and eyelid (i.e. early stage eye cancer up to 2cm that is not bleeding or discharging). An animal with an eye cancer that is larger than 2cm, involves the whole eye, has extended to surrounding tissues, the orbit, and lymph nodes or is discharging pus, is flyblown or is likely to haemorrhage should not be certified for transport.”
  • Immediate humane slaughter if the condition is severe enough; any of the conditions mentioned above.

Certification does not guarantee the animal will not be condemned at the works, but does at least get it into the works as far as inspection.

Veterinary certification is only for transport for slaughter generally, and therefore animals with certificates should not be sent to the sale.

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