FACIAL ECZEMA PREVENTION
Facial eczema is a cause of major production losses in dairy herds.
When moisture, high ground temperatures and humidity all occur together, the offending fungus present all year round becomes a problem. Under these conditions the fungus grows rapidly and spores are produced containing the toxin Sporidesmin which damages the liver and prevents removal of chlorophyll break down products from the body. This ultimately causes photosensitisation or ‘sunburn’ when the cow is exposed to sunlight. This is usually seen 10 days after exposure to the spores. The first thing you may notice is a drop in milk production and affected cows may seek shade, have swollen legs or brisket, fat ears, red skin or burnt teats.
• Spore counting & then selectively grazing safe paddocks – obtain spore count information from your local vet or get spore counts done on pasture samples from your own farm and send them to your vet for testing
• Avoid hard grazing of paddocks as the toxin is concentrated at the bottom of the sward
• No topping of grass as this allows build-up of leaf litter
• Provide alternative feeds (maize, silage, brassica crops, hay) during high risk times
2) ZINC DOSING
Zinc forms a stable complex with sporidesmin preventing damage to the liver. For best protection zinc dosing should be started 2-3 weeks before spore counts start to rise (December – January.)
Zinc can be dosed in the following ways:
• Zinc sulphate trough treatment – try our Solutrace FE blend which contains Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate along with other beneficial trace elements & aniseed flavouring to make it more palatable
• Drenching with Zinc Oxide – try Solutrace FE Drench
• Slow release Zinc boluses
Click for more Solutrace FE information
3) PASTURE SPRAYING
Pasture spraying kills the fungus preventing spore production. This can last up to 6 weeks if done properly, but it is advisable to spore check after 4 weeks.
Please note our Solutrace FE blends contain Copper Glycinate which is in the organic complex form, ensuring maximum copper uptake without affecting the uptake of zinc or the health of the liver.
GRASS SAMPLING FOR FACIAL ECZEMA SPORES
Monitoring the facial eczema situation on your farm is vital as prevention is better than cure.
One of the tools in doing this is taking regular grass samples from a number of paddocks on your farm and getting them tested via your local vet. Paddock selection will depend on the type of farm and the country they lie on. A useful system is to use warm slopes as an indicator site and sample it often. If sore counts start to rise, check other paddocks to find pattern over the farm, but do not assume that dangerous paddocks will be the same every year.
HOW TO COLLECT A GRASS SAMPLE:
1) Select paddock you want to monitor
2) Using scissors / knife, cut a handful of grass down to level the animals are grazing (about 1cm above ground level) Do not include soil as this makes spore counting very difficult.
3) Take at least 10 cuttings from random areas at least 10 metres apart in paddock
4) Fill a clean plastic or paper bag with at least 100g of grass (a bread bag full of grass)
5) Store in fridge until sample taken in for testing – but preferably have it processed the same day it is cut.
6) Repeat sampling weekly in the same paddock, on the same path across the paddock.
Some vets monitor several farms which gives a very general picture of the toxic levels in your area. It is however, recommended to get your farm tested especially when local levels become dangerous.
Chat to your local vet for further information.