Facial Eczema Prevention

Did you know?

Facial eczema damages liver cells, decreasing milk production (up to 50%) in dairy cows, and reducing growth & reproductive success in youngstock. It is estimated that for every cow showing outward signs (clinical FE), many more will be affected by liver damage (subclinical FE).

Protect your cows from Facial Eczema to maintain production

Monitor your farm’s risk level

It will change

Get your Zinc dose rates right

Test your plan is working

Facial Ezcema

What is facial eczema?

Facial eczema is a liver disease, that can cause secondary skin signs such as photosensitivity. Animals are susceptible to developing facial eczema when they eat pasture containing fungal spores which produce a toxin called sporidesmin. Animals suffering from facial eczema can show a range of clinical signs including poorer production, weight loss, skin damage and can get very sick and even die. The disease is very painful, so it is important for animals’ welfare that they are protected against eczema as much as possible.

Little can be done to treat eczema once liver damage has occurred, beyond providing shade and making animals more comfortable. Prevention is the best strategy. The mainstays of facial eczema prevention are zinc administration, grazing of safe pastures/feeds, and breeding for resistance. If you do have animals suffering from facial eczema, talk to your vet or read the guide below for some treatment tips.

    Monitor spores to assess risk

    Anexa has monitor farms in most districts we service. You can sign up to receive our weekly email updates during the facial eczema season (late January to Early May, depending on season) here.

    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 on your own farm to know the risk for your animals.

    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 and providing alternative feed can be used strategically, in conjunction with zinc supplementation, to get stock off dangerous pastures.

    Zinc is protective against facial eczema

    Zinc only works as a preventative; it is not an effective treatment for affected animals. However, animals with facial eczema still need zinc supplementation to protect them from further damage.

    The most effective way to administer zinc to stock is by giving them a long-acting (6 weeks) intra-ruminal zinc bolus. Other options, such as water treatment with zinc, are commonly used but often don’t provide full protection against disease due to variable water intakes.

    We recommend testing zinc levels in the herd to check if they are fully protected. This can be done by taking blood samples or through bulk milk testing (ZincCheck) if you are a Fonterra supplier. We recommend testing zinc levels two weeks after you start full zinc supplementation. We will interpret these results to assess whether your supplementation programme needs any changes to ensure your animals are getting the best possible protection.

    Have a chat with your vet about the best options for managing facial eczema risk in your animals.

    Anexa’s Facial Eczema prevention services include:

    Prevention and management planning

    Weekly emails forecasting facial eczema risk, and advice on prevention


    Weekly text message of spore count numbers in your area


    Competitively priced zinc products (mono, hepta, Face-Guard bolus)


    Testing for zinc levels


    Technician bolus application

    Veterinary care for exposed animals

    Information & Advice


    How to collect a grass sample.pdf


    Steps to safe zinc bolusing of calves and sheep


    11 tips for Bolus administration


    Zinc dosages.pdf


    Stock suffering from facial eczema?.pdf


    Podcast - Facial Eczema 101


    Podcast – Myth Busters - Facial Eczema

    Protect your animals with Zinc this Facial Eczema season  

    When you buy your Zinc from Anexa you’ll go in the draw to win a Ziggy Portable BBQ

    When you buy your bulk Zinc from Anexa you’ll go in the draw to win a Ziggy Portable BBQ

    Check out the latest advice from our vet team

    From caring for your calves to milk replacer and feed – we’re here to help, for more information regarding rearing youngstock

    Share This