News & Advice

2019 is nearly upon us; what sort of Facial Eczema season will it bring?

Dec 4, 2018 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Facial eczema, Minerals

Julia Baynes, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Morrinsville

As this gorgeous Spring rolls into Summer, we’re all hoping for the right blend of warmth and wet to allow this kind season to continue. However, it’s exactly those warm and wet conditions that can make for a challenging facial eczema season.

The fungal spores that cause facial eczema can produce another generation of spores within 48 hours in the right conditions: warm nights and moderate levels of moisture in the pasture. These toxic spores build up quickly at the base of the sward where they are readily consumed by grazing livestock.

Every season has different patterns of warmth and wet; however, spores are always present on pasture, and given how quickly conditions can change, no season is free from facial eczema. Last season was a good example: spore counts remained low to moderate for most of the risk period, however we saw several farms with facial eczema cases late in the season, due to chronic exposure to spores combined with stopping protective zinc supplementation too early.

None of us can accurately predict what 2019 will bring, but we know that without an effective zinc supplementation plan organised, your herd will be at risk of facial eczema.
Most of our farmers have zinc supplementation in place, but often, blood tests show that zinc levels in supplemented animals are not high enough to be protective against facial eczema. A 2014 study found that the majority (two-thirds) of farms were in this position. ‘Almost’ protective is not protective. It’s that simple.

So, the Anexa team want to set our farmers a zinc supplementation challenge for the new year: 

  • Be ready to start supplementing zinc in early January – make sure your zinc products are ordered before the Christmas break 
  • Speak to your vet about the different zinc products that are available, their pros and cons, and correct dosing levels 
  • Organise with your vet to take blood samples two weeks after you start zinc supplementation. It’s the only way we can tell whether your animals are protected.
    Together, let’s put effective zinc supplementation plans in place, so we are ready for whatever 2019 brings.
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