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South Waikato Veterinary Services


Facial Eczema Information for 2013 Season

Below, you will find information on the district spore counts as compiled by Gribbles laboratory. Spore counts that are reported to Gribbles are compiled and given as an average count, as well as the lowest and highest counts for a region. These are updated once weekly.

Risk levels are based on the average count:

  1. <15 000 spores per gram = LOW

  2. 15 - 30 000 spores per gram = SLIGHT

  3. 30 - 60 000 spores per gram = MODERATE

  4. >60 000 spores per gram = HIGH

District spore counts for the South Waikato as at the 22nd of March 2013 were 0 - 400 000 spores per gram. Average count was 66000 spores per gram. This is considered HIGH. The data was compiled from 7 farm counts.

We have received reports from several of our farm clients of clinical Facial Eczema cows. That is, they are seeing cows with visible signs of acute Facial Eczema. Thus all farms should continue dosing their cows and calves with Zinc.

District spore counts for Taupo as at the 22nd of March 2013 were 0 - 15 000 spores per gram. Average count was 4000 spores per gram. This is considered LOW. The data was compiled from 5 farm counts.

District spore counts for the Hamilton area are 20 - 50 000 spores per gram. Average count was 35 000 spores per gram. This data was compiled from 2 farms.

Click HERE to see historical spore counts for New Zealand and the emerging trend for this year

Spore Counts for your farm

In the Tokoroa clinic we are able to perform spore counts on pasture samples from your farm. This will provide you with valuable information on the level of facial eczema spore levels in individual paddocks.

The main strategy to avoid losses from facial eczema is to predict the danger periods and take appropriate action whether it be Zinc Dosing (drenching or dosatron) or avoiding toxic pasture by spraying, or by treating animals with Zinc bullets.

Under favourable conditions, warm nights (>12˚C) and wet pasture most of the day, spore numbers can rise very rapidly.

How to collect a sample:

  1. It is preferable to collect samples whilst the pasture is wet with dew or rain

  2. To collect a sample from a paddock, cut a handful of pasture leaves one cm above ground level, at not less than 5 places about 10 metres apart. Collection from several places averages any variation in the paddock

  3. Try not to include soil in the sample as this will make spore counting difficult. Also avoid parts of paddocks sheltered by trees or hedges and sample from an area of even slope

  4. A total of at least 60 grams of pasture is required for each count (ie 60 grams from each paddock). A full rectal glove of grass is an appropriate amount to collect

  5. Bring your sample to the Tokoroa Clinic as soon as possible on the day of collection for counting

  6. The number of spores which will cause facial eczema is affected by the length of time spore numbers remain high, by the depth to which pasture is grazed, and by the amount of subclinical damage already present in animals due to previous small doses of toxin

  7. Experience has shown that levels above 40 000 spores per gram of pasture are dangerous, and long term exposure to lower levels may also lead to facial eczema. At 100 000 spores per gram, or where there is a rapid rise in spore numbers on a day basis, animals should be shifted to safer grazing whilst continuing Zinc therapy.

  8. Spore numbers can rise very rapidly, and usually drop more slowly.

For more information on the disease of Facial Eczema, please head to the Dairy Resources section of our website and click the Facial Eczema tab on the left.