News & Advice

Keep an eye on spore counts to manage the risk of Facial Eczema

Dec 7, 2021 | Beef cattle, Bulls, Calf rearing, Cows, Dry stock, Dry stock animal health & welfare, Facial eczema, Grazing youngstock, Sheep

Almost every farmer I’ve spoken to has commented on the amazing season it’s been. A wonderful blend of warm and wet conditions has led to happy cows, and happy farmers! 

However, it’s exactly these conditions that can make for a challenging facial eczema (FE) season. Warmth (especially at night) and moisture in the pasture allow fungal spores to thrive, and spore counts can jump up to dangerous levels in as little as 48 hours. These toxic spores cause significant liver damage to cows: slowing growth, limiting production, and in severe cases, leading to full blown liver failure. 

It’s important to remember that while some seasons are worse for Facial Eczema than others, there are always spores on the ground throughout the summer and autumn months. Even in better seasons, our vets will always see some cows showing facial eczema signs. This is because long-term exposure to low spore counts is just as damaging as short periods of high exposure.

None of us can accurately predict what kind of facial eczema season the coming months will bring, but every one of our farmers needs an effective zinc supplementation plan in place. Every cow, heifer and calf needs the right level of zinc in their bodies to protect them against facial eczema damage. 

Speak to your vet about your herd’s zinc supplementation plan now, so you are ready to start supplementing in early January: at least two weeks ahead of the at-risk period.

We will begin our FE spore count emails and txt messages in January. If you would like to receive these updates, please register at enter your details and select ‘spore counts’.

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