Facial eczema on rise in spite of rain and cool temperatures
Farmers who may have thought the cool nights and rain would mean that the risk of facial eczema was over have come in for a surprise.
Spore counts in some areas are higher than they were a week ago, said Totally Vets, which tests sites weekly.
Facial eczema (FE) was severe last year, with a few animals euthanased because of the impact of the disease.
FE is a disease of sheep, cattle, goats, and deer. It also affects alpacas but not horses.
Affected stock show sunburn which can be severe and are uncomfortable.
The skin damage is secondary to liver damage, and both together can result in ill-thrift, lowered milk production, low fertility, metabolic diseases and death.
The warm, moist summer and autumn conditions on dry pastures after rain or heavy dews bring it on. It can start in January and can carry on till late May, as long as soils are warm.
Spore counts are measured at per gram of pasture. Counts had decreased, but stock were not yet out of the woods, Totally Vets said.
Ten sites were checked for spore counts for the week ended April 9.
Totally Vets facial eczema administrator Gaye Stein said grass which came in after that suggested spore counts had risen.
She said the highest spore count this week (in Manawatu and parts of Rangitikei) was Opiki, with Okuku South at 180,000, Bunnythorpe was 140,000 and Linton/Tokomaru at 95,000.
If stock were not grazing down into the base of the grass the risk could be reduced.
"However if you are unsure about whether it is safe to stop zinc supplementation (to combat FE) have a chat to your vet for further advice," Stein said.
Totally Vets said spore counts could vary greatly between properties and even between paddocks.