News & Advice

Facial eczema (FE): Cattle of all ages can be affected

Dec 1, 2017 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Young Stock

Finley Koolhoven, Anexa FVC Matamata Veterinarian 

Facial eczema (FE) is a pretty nasty condition. Cattle of all ages can be affected. 

Some facts: 

  • FE caused by: ingested spores from fungus (Pithomyces chartarum) 
  • Fungus growing in: dead material on/near the ground (grass) 
  • Spores contain: toxins  (sporidesmins) 
  • Toxins cause:  damage to bile tubing in the liver 
  • Bile used for:  digestion, but also to gets rid of pigments and breakdown products from grass 
  • If bile builds up in liver: liver damage (can’t live without the liver, hence the name ‘live-r’) 
  • Build up of pigments:  jaundice 
  • Build up of ‘the green stuff’ of grass  (Phylloerythrin): light coloured skin easily sun burnt (photosensitivity)  

Preventing damage:

  • Zinc (drenching, drinking water, bolus) 
  • Treat  cows AND calves. 
  • Calves have less reserves/resilience than cows, don’t forget about them! 
  • Give calves boluses:  Faceguard or Timecapsule rather than through drinking water. Calves drink less than cows (relatively) because they don’t lactate. They may not consume (drink) enough zinc to protect them against FE. 

Need help?  Our technicians are expert ‘calf-bolussers’ and are happy to help you protect these bovine babies and future members of your herd. 
What else can you do? 

  • If possible, don’t let animals graze to the ground (more dead stuff there) 
  • Monitor weather: warmth and moisture stimulate growth of the fungus 
  • Monitor spore counts in the area (sign up for Anexa’s FVC’s FE spore count alert service via texts or email visit 
  • Spray paddocks with anti-fungals, but make sure there is 100% coverage otherwise there may be ‘hot-spots’ (with a lot of FE spores) present 

Get more information:  Read further articles on our website  and call any of the Anexa FVC clinics and have a chat with the vet. Let’s keep them safe! 

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