News & Advice

Facial eczema is a cause of major production losses in dairy herds. Although the offending fungus is present all year round it is only a problem when moisture, high ground temperatures and humidity all occur together. Under these conditions the fungus grows rapidly and spores are produced containing the toxin Sporidesmin. As the weather warms up we need to start thinking about facial eczema prevention. 
PREVENTION IS KEY! Here are some key strategies: 

  •  Spore counting and then selectively grazing safe paddocks 
  •  Avoid hard grazing of paddocks as the toxin is concentrated at the bottom of the sward 
  • No topping of grass as this allows build-up of leaf litter
  • Provide alternative feeds (maize, silage, brassica crops, hay) during high risk times. 

We will be providing spore count information throughout the facial eczema season from monitor farms in your area. We can also do spore counts on pasture samples from your own farm. 

Zinc Compounds 

Zinc forms a stable complex with sporidesmin preventing damage to the liver. It is fairly effective but for the best protection should be started 2-3 weeks before the spore counts start to rise (December to January). Zinc can be given via: 

  • Drenching with Zinc oxide 
  • Zinc sulphate trough treatment 
  • Slow release Zinc boluses (Time capsule and Face guard) 
Pasture spraying 

Pasture spraying kills the fungus preventing spore production. If done properly this can last up to 6 weeks but it is advisable to spore check after 4 weeks. 
Sporidesmin damages the liver and prevents removal of chlorophyll break down products from the body. This ultimately causes photosensitisation or ‘sunburn’ when exposed to sunlight. This is usually seen 10 days after exposure to spores. The first thing you may notice is a drop in milk production and affected cows may seek shade, have swollen legs or brisket, fat ears, red skin or burnt teats. 
For further information, please talk to your vet, for zinc products contact one of our sales reps 0800 284 3838. 

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