Facial Eczema (FE) is caused by a mycotoxin produced by the fungus pithomyces chartarum, which grows in pasture dead matter. The fungal spores are ingested by sheep and cattle, releasing a toxin called sporidesmin, which is concentrated in the bile of the liver causing significant liver damage.
Wet and humid weather (when overnight temperatures are above 13 degrees Celsius and when there is moisture available) allows this fungus to multiply rapidly. When high levels are ingested and build up in the bloodstream, they react with sunlight causing photosensitivity and the lesions we recognise as FE. By the time you see the physical signs of FE, there is already significant liver damage in a large proportion of the mob.
Knowing the spore count in your area and monitoring the degree of risk on your property enables you to act with the right product before you start seeing the signs. There are a range of products available to help. If you need more advice on an FE programme that best suits your region and farm, please contact your local PGG Wrightson TFR.
Pasture spore counting to monitor both the count and the degree of rise helps establish what the degree of facial eczema risk is on your farm, and what action to take.
Once the regional counts are trending toward 20,000 begin specific monitoring on spore counts on your farm.
Once the counts on your farm rise to 30,000, and particularly if they are rising sharply, weigh a selection of the herd or mob so that accurate preventative doses of zinc can be calculated.
Spore counts continue to climb with significant count increases in:
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