Facial Eczema

Facial Eczema
By Ali Cullum, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Morrinsville
We have a continuing warm weather pattern and sporadic rain, so the spore counts are remaining high. Soil temperatures are not dropping below 16°C, and with air temperatures averaging above 12°C, we are still in a fungal growth climate! Lots of people have mushrooms in their paddocks showing just how fungi like these conditions!

The cows have been exposed to grazing spore counts of over 20,000 for over 3 months now. This is the danger time for facial eczema as the effects of eating spores over extended time periods are cumulative. Some cows are grazing low into the sward, therefore ingesting all the spores out there. We need to be vigilant about assessing risk with pasture spore counts and maintaining protective zinc intakes as herds are dried off, or spraying pastures with fungicides. Talk to your veterinarian if you are concerned about the level of protection your herd requires. We can carry out pasture and faecal spore counts, measure serum zinc to monitor the level of supplementation, and also look at blood liver enzymes to check that the animals are effectively protected.

If you have the misfortune to have animals affected clinically with facial eczema, remember that they are a serious welfare concern, particularly if they are showing signs of skin peeling. To enable them to recover, you need to dry them off, give them continuous access to shade, and easy to eat supplement with balanced levels of protein and energy. If they have peeling skin, a zinc cream should be applied at least twice weekly. Your veterinarian may recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to make them more comfortable and vitamins to help their livers. If they are suffering badly, your veterinarian may advise that euthanasia is the kindest option. Cows that gain condition after a month of above average feeding will usually go on to make a full recovery, but those that don’t may have permanently affected livers. Again, your veterinarian will be happy to advise you on the outcome for clinically affected animals.

Date Added: Thursday, 9th May 2019