Facial eczema is caused by intake of spore from a fungus that lives in the dead matter of pasture. Spores from this fungus contain the toxin sporidesmin. Once ingested, this toxin causes liver damage which in turn causes poor health and photo sensitivity. Facial eczema will affect lifetime productivity of your livestock, so it’s important to protect your stock against eczema.
Little can be done to treat eczema once liver damage has occurred. Prevention is the best strategy. The mainstays of facial eczema prevention are zinc administration, grazing of safe pastures/feeds, and breeding for resistance.
Anexa has monitor farms in most districts we service. You can sign up to receive our weekly email updates at www.anexa.co.nz/fe
This will give an idea of the trend in the area. Spore counts can be very different between farms, and even between paddocks on farms. It is best to test the pastures you are about to graze to know what is going on.
When spore counts climb to around 30,000, it is time to consider bolusing at risk stock with zinc. The only way to determine if a pasture is safe is to test levels. Forage crops can be used strategically to get stock off dangerous pastures.
Zinc is protective against facial eczema. Zinc only works as a preventative, it is not a treatment for affected animals. However, affected animals do still need protecting as well as treating for their symptoms.
The easiest way to treat stock you are not managing intensively is by giving them a zinc bolus. This gives 6 weeks of protection.
Options for more intensively managed stock centre around introducing zinc into the animals water supply.
Huge gains have been made by breeders locally in breeding for eczema resistance. Buy bulls/rams from breeders putting effort into improving stock tolerance against eczema.
For further information catch up with your Vet.