FE Fact Summary
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- Farmers judge FE by the number of animals with clinicals (visible) symptoms. But the greater concern is the number of sub-clinicals, since this is liver damage that is not visible.
- Sub clinical Facial Eczema suppresses the immune system, reduces fertility and growth rate and increases the number of barren ewes.
- With global warming, Facial Eczema will be a recurring problem, but most of the time farmers won't be aware of it. Low spore counts will cause non visible liver damage and threaten animal health.
- Breeding for increased tolerance to FE should be the first line of defence. Consistently buying of rams from FE tolerant flocks, will in only a few years, reduce liver damage and protect your stock.
- As an extra bonus in FE tolerant sheep other mycotoxins will also be suppressed e.g. the effects of grass staggers, fusarium, and zearalenone will be less or disappear.
- Facial Eczema outbreaks in the North Island are most severe on pasture, where rye grasses are dominant and have been closely grazed after a dry period and then flushed after rain.
- Having an area set aside with clover/chicory, clover/tall fescue, or sort like mixtures will not only be an excellent second line of defence for FE, but could also boost lamb growth in a crucial time of the year and protect ewes from zearalenone when the rams go out.
- Zinc products should be your last resort, not the only one.