Staying prepared for facial eczema
Recent record rain in Waikato has an added attraction for farmers.
Besides boosting production and breaking the region’s run of droughts, it is also keeping facial eczema at bay, at least for now.
But farmers should take a preventive approach and add zinc to their programme now, vets and farm leaders said. Farmers are usually on guard at this time of year, ready to battle the dreaded disease in which facial eczema spores affect cattle livers, and animal health and production.
‘‘Although we have the right climatic conditions for facial eczema in terms of moisture and humidity, the amount of rain we have had has washed any spores down into the soil,’’ said vet Kevan Stewart, branch manager of Vet Focus in Putaruru.
‘‘Usually at this time of year, cattle would be grazing down to the lower level of pasture and would be forced to pick up some spores. But because there’s so much grass around at the moment, cows are not eating down to that low level.’’
Mr Stewart said his practice had looked at only a couple of cases of facial eczema and spores had not been identified yet.
But conditions could change when it stopped raining and farmers were urged to keep watching.
‘‘We would encourage farmers to start preventive zinc procedures now, before the risk is there,’’ Mr Stewart said.
Over the last five years in Waikato, the risk period for facial eczema had run from January until the end of April.
Federated Farmers Waikato president James Houghton said farmers should keep a careful weather eye on risk factors.
‘‘The heavy rain we have been having washes the spores right down.
‘‘But things can change very quickly; within a week. Showery weather isn’t good for facial eczema.
‘‘Farmers on eczemaprone land should be thinking now about how they can manage it and starting treatment,’’ Mr Houghton said.
ECZEMA WATCH: Federated Farmers Waikato president James Houghton said farmers should keep a careful weather eye on risk factors.