News & Advice

Rebecca Smith, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Morrinsville

Facial eczema season is here and now is the time to begin your prevention program if you haven’t already started.


Where to begin?

Knowing your facial eczema risk is a good place to start. Our spore count updates are underway. Follow this link to sign up for weekly emails and check out Anexa’s interactive spore count map!

Whilst our map is pretty awesome, we do see spore counts that vary drastically from paddock to paddock, let alone farm to farm. The map is a good tool for understanding the spore count trend in your area, but to understand the true risk status of your farm, it is best to check your own spore counts. I recommend testing a selection of paddocks with varied topography (and therefore risk). Each paddock should be sampled at 10 points across the paddock and the samples should be cut (not pulled) as close to the base of the sward as possible (check out our how to collect a pasture sample here). You can submit your grass samples to your local Anexa clinic for spore count testing.


What are the critical spore count levels?

Preventative zinc treatment should commence when spore counts are demonstrating an increasing trend over 20,000. Remember that injury to the liver will occur with cumulative consistent exposure to low->moderate spore counts as well as shorter bursts of exposure to high spore levels.


What can you do to protect your animals?

Minimise the exposure to spores:
  • Spray pastures with fungicide: this needs to be done before spore counts reach 20,000 spores/g. Fungicide must be sprayed on lush growing pasture (not dead/brown pasture). All areas that can be grazed must be sprayed. This can last up to 4-6 weeks if performed correctly.
  • Provide alternative feed sources other than grass over the risk period.
  • Avoid grazing paddocks where there is accumulation of dead plant material.
  • Maximise post grazing residuals (avoid pressuring stock to graze close to the ground).


Preventative zinc treatment options:
  • Water dosing via an inline dispenser or a trough dispenser
    • Easiest but…..
      • Often does not achieve protective zinc levels
      • Zinc needs to be slowly introduced into the water over a period of 10-14 days to allow the cows to adapt to it
      • Only suitable for milking cows
  • Oral drenching
    • Labour intensive
    • Accurate dosing easily achieved
    • Suitable for cows and sheep
  • Slow-release bolus
    • Less labour intensive than drenching
    • Accurate dosing achieved
    • Suitable for cows and sheep

How can you check that your plan is working?

Once you have your zinc dosing in place it is important to check that you are actually achieving protective levels. Talk to your vet about which test is best for you, you may need to do a combination of tests:

Finally (and most importantly). It is important to discuss your plan with your vet. Every farm is different. The strategy that works well for your neighbour may not be the best one for you.


Other Anexa Resources that you may find helpful:

Facial Eczema Resources

Spore count map

Podcast: Myth busters – Facial eczema

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