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Facial Eczema

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to facial eczema in cattle, but once an animal has facial eczema, recovery must be carefully managed. When heat and humidity rise, so do the chances of facial eczema developing in your herd. Agvance has a number of zinc products to aid in prevention and recovery.

What is facial eczema? 

Facial eczema is caused by a toxic fungus called pithomyces chartarum, which grows on the dead plant matter found in the base of summer pastures. Growth is common throughout the North Island and upper South Island of New Zealand during the summer months when heat and humidity are high. The fungus spores produce a toxin that is damaging to the liver and bile ducts, which in turn causes toxins to build up in the body.

Prevention – how can facial eczema be prevented?

Zinc supplements

Zinc supplements are the most common preventative tool for facial eczema in your herd. Zinc supplements work by disrupting the production of liver-damaging toxins. To be successful, supplements must send zinc directly to the liver. This is best achieved when zinc supplements are in sulphate or oxide forms, instead of chelated forms.

Pasture treatment
Certain antifungal sprays can be used in pasture treatment, however it’s difficult to time spraying well which can result in less than 70% effectiveness. While antifungal sprays are a valuable tool in facial eczema prevention, it should be used in conjunction with zinc dosing.

Safe feeding and grazing
Determining paddocks with high spore counts and avoiding these during high-risk periods (December to January) is a good idea when preventing facial eczema. Your local vet can help with the process of sampling and testing. Providing alternative feeds (maize, silage, brassica crops, hay) during high-risk periods can help reduce the cow’s exposure to pasture spores. This method is most effective when used in conjunction with zinc dosing.

Once an animal has facial eczema, what can be done? 

Facial eczema is a serious disease that can compromise the cow’s immune system to near-fatal or fatal levels. Recovery is dependent on the level of liver damage. If the liver has not been too badly damaged, the affected animal will need to be well fed, provided with esential mineral supplements, and protected from undue stress during the recovery period.
Agvance’s powerful liver tonic, Liverade, delivers a combination of herbs, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins designed to aid in the rebuilding of liver cells for the animal’s recovery. Liverade is effective in treating both cattle and sheep.

Why is the liver so important?
Healthy liver function is vital. Key functions include:

  • Bile production – bile clears waste products from the body
  • Clearing toxins from the blood, including feed toxins, aflatoxins, mycotoxins, ergot toxins)
  • Detection and clearing of bacteria and viruses arriving from the gut
  • Clearing of bilirubin from the blood
  • Blood protein production
  • Lipoprotein production
  • Storage and distribution of glucose
  • Ammonia to urea conversion
  • Amino acid regulation

Agvance also manufactures a number of products containing zinc for cows (see below).

 Find out more by talking to your vet or the Agvance team today. Ready to reorder? Now you can re-order your products online too – it’s a fast and easy process. Just register, and get started.