Fa­cial eczema alert is­sued

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

North Is­land farm­ers have been warned to check their stock for signs of fa­cial eczema af­ter a sharp jump in spores from the fun­gus caus­ing this dis­ease among live­stock.

Pithomyces char­tarum fun­gus which lives in pas­ture, pro­duces a spore con­tain­ing a toxin caus­ing liver and bile-duct dam­age to live­stock when eaten.

The high spore counts were the re­sult of high soil tem­per­a­tures and re­cent wet weather, AsureQual­ity fa­cial eczema mon­i­tor­ing co-or­di­na­tor Leo Cooney said.

’’There is a com­bi­na­tion there that is a recipe for dis­as­ter.’’

The most re­cent re­port from Grib­bles Vet­eri­nary Lab­o­ra­tory on April 17 showed counts were at ex­tremely high lev­els in many districts.

Most Waikato districts were rated as a high risk with high­est lev­els in the Hau­raki Plains hav­ing a count of 535,000 spores per gram fol­lowed by Wait­omo which scored 205,000/g.

The high­est in the North Is­land was Horowhenua with 762,000/g.

Counts be­come dan­ger­ous to live­stock when they mea­sure more than 100,000.

Cooney said the worst cases of fa­cial eczema al­ways fol­lowed droughts and these ar­eas were the ones af­fected the most.

’’There are two rea­sons for that, one is that con­di­tions be­come right for it and the sec­ond is stock are graz­ing short pas­tures so they are pick­ing up ev­ery spore that’s avail­able.’’

Lit­ter on the base of pas­tures rot­ted af­ter rain and it was in this en­vi­ron­ment that pro­vided the per­fect breed­ing ground for the fun­gus.

’’The warm soil acts like an elec­tric blan­ket and the fungi love those con­di­tions.’’

The next few weeks were a risky pe­riod for farm­ers and Cooney urged farm­ers to test their pas­ture for spore counts and main­tain their zinc treat­ments to mit­i­gate the dis­ease ef­fects.

Al­though night and morn­ing tem­per­a­tures may feel cooler, it took a lot to cool the earth’s soil tem­per­a­tures down at this time of the year.

Soil tem­per­a­tures taken in the Horowhenua last week ranged be­tween 19.3 and 21.5 C, which were per­fect grow­ing con­di­tions for the spores, he said.

Farm­ers needed to re­main vig­i­lant and keep pre­cau­tions fully in place un­til spore counts and soil tem­per­a­tures dropped.

He also rec­om­mended farm­ers con­tinue to feed out sup­ple­men­tary feed to their stock to lessen the chance of stock con­sum­ing spore-af­fected pas­tures.

- © Fair­fax NZ News

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