WISNER – When cattle get Pinkeye, the disease can be quickly passed from one calf to another.
Then the cattle feeders go to the nearest farm supply company, animal health dealer, or veterinarian to collect a case of eye protection patches known to the feeders as the “Shuteye for Pinkeye”.
In animal health stores, “Shuteye is like Kleenex,” said Dr. Rod Wartig from Wisner. Wartig, the country’s most important shuteye manufacturer, will shortly have sold around 6 million of the fabric eye covers.
Pinkeye, or infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) as it is known in the veterinary community, is a highly contagious bacterial disease. It is not fatal, but it can have a significant economic impact on the rancher. It is spread through direct contact with other infected cattle, flies, or other lively objects.
“Cattle can recover from Pinkeye, but the patches help quite a bit,” said Wartig of his shuteye for Pinkeye patches.
The non-medicated patches are placed over the eye for protection and protect any medication that has previously been applied to the eye. The patch protects the eye from insects, tall grass and weeds, wind, rain and sunlight.
The biodegradable plasters are available in sizes for cows and calves and are environmentally friendly. They fall off within 10 days of application.
Wartig’s veterinary practice American Animal Health was founded in 1978 in Wisner. After graduating from Des Moines High School, Iowa, Wartig received his PhD in veterinary science from Iowa State University, Ames. He moved to Wisner in 1966, worked for the Wisner veterinarian Dr. Mel Wostopaul and had bought the business with the Wostopaul veterinarian in 1968, which mainly worked with pigs and cattle.
Later active as Creative Research Laboratories, the innovative company marketed beef dust bags to large companies and a silage preservation product (Sila-lator Gold) to large companies. Wartig and his partner Tom Thompson also ran a veterinary drug wholesaler in Fremont, Ne Kem Vet Inc.
Wartig and his partner, Bill Cortner, of Maysville, Missouri, began selling cattle eye patches in 1983 when the company purchased the brand from Able 2 Products, based in Cassville, Missouri. The patches have been manufactured at the Wisner site since 2012.
The production of the plaster is a methodical, multi-stage process. Several times a year, 15,000 yards of 10-ounce cotton duck, similar to denim, are ordered on 1,000-pound buns. The fabric is then dyed black, stiffened, cut, and sent to Wisner in smaller 200-pound rolls.
Once the rolls have arrived, the canvas is lined up in 40 thickness deep layers on a cutting table where it is divided into easy-to-use sections. The canvas is then stamped in circles using a clicker, a machine commonly used in industry that processes fabrics, leather, or cardboard, Wartig said.
Sergers – special sewing machines that sew and cut unnecessary fabric at the same time – are used to sew the circles into finished oval shapes. Office manager Cathy Gobar can manage up to 5,000 people in one day. Several part-time workers also support the process.
The patches are then packaged and sent daily via UPS or Freightline to the USA as well as to Australia, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Canada and other countries.
Wartig had a number of offers to purchase the company’s domain name. Information about Shuteye is currently available at www.pinkeye.com.