Myths about Facial Eczema

 Facial Eczema (FE) is seasonal and only occurs from February to March
  • Spores can be at damaging levels from December right through until June.

Heavy rain will decrease risk
  • For a short period but counts can rise rapidly if the conditions are right.

Frosts kill off the spores
  • Fungal colonies are able to continue producing spores after frosts. Cold intensifies the toxicity of the sporidesmin.
  • If the climatic conditions warm up again the risk will still be present

Not on my farm
  • If spore counts are high in the region spore counts are very likely to be present on all farms.
  • Every paddock may vary in counts, whether you have short or long grass. There can be sub-clinical losses, even if you don’t see any clinical signs.
  • Only counts >50,000 cause damage
    • Continuous exposure to spore counts as low as 20,000 can cause as much damage as short spikes.

    Black cattle don’t get FE
    • Yes they do – it’s a liver disease; black cattle may not exhibit pigmentation and skin peeling.

    FE spores only grow during periods of high humidity, light rain, grass minimum >12-13°C & high ground temperatures
    • They must have dead and dying pasture litter to grow on and can still grow when air temps are <12°C.

    Only rye grass pastures pose high risk
    • High risk factors are rye grass, cocksfoot, browntop, yorkshire fog pastures, and around urine patches (FE spores are known to be nitrophillic).

    Fungicides kill all spores
    • This only applies when fungicide is applied at the right time. When the pasture is green and growing and counts are less than <20,000 – check before grazing.

    Cows get sufficient zinc from water trough treatment
    • Studies have shown that individual cow zinc levels can vary considerably, dependent on the volume of water drunk or zinc supplemented feed eaten.