Myths about Facial Eczema

Facial Eczema (FE) is seasonal and only occurs from February to March

Not true. Spores can be at damaging levels even before December right through untill June.

Heavy rain will decrease risk

Temporarily maybe but in the right conditions fungal colonies will continue to produce spores, which rapidly lift the counts in paddocks after heavy rains.

Frosts kill off the spores

Fungal colonies can continue producing spores after frosts when favourable conditions return. Cold conditions can intensify the toxicity of the sporidesmin. If 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. Even though no clinical cases are seen, there are likely to be subclinical losses.

Only counts >50,000 cause damage

Ongoing exposure to pasture spore counts as low as 20,000 causes as much damage as short lived spikes.

South facing paddocks are safer than North

Not always true. Counts can be just as bad on either.

Black cattle don’t get FE

Yes they do. FE is a liver disease, though they 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 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 love nitrogen!).

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

Water intakes and therefore zinc intakes do vary. Serum data has shown that cows may be under-protected  with zinc.