If you want more choice in your business, good money management is the bottom line. Our Environment section covers information about effluent, land, water and nutrient management on dairy farms. The People section shows you how to recruit quality staff, be a better manager, work within the law, grow your people and much more. Information about feed management on dairy farms, including seasonal management, production systems, supplements, crops and pasture types. Animal management is a critical component of farm profitability and sustainability.
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The smallest change in the dairy shed can improve milk quality and profitability and an efficient milking system Preventing facial eczema in sheep one where cows, facilities and people work in balance. From research and the services we provide, to education, policy and the Dairy Industry Strategy, there's so much to discover in this section.
Facial Eczema FE is a disease which causes lowered production, skin irritation and peeling and sometimes death. Facial eczema is caused by a toxin sporidesmin produced by the spores of the fungus Pithomyces chartarum growing on pasture. The fungus grows in the dead litter at the base of pasture in warm moist conditions.
The damaged liver cannot rid the body of wastes and a breakdown product of chlorophyll builds up in the blood causing sensitivity to sunlight, which in turn causes inflammation of the skin. Not all animals affected with FE show physical signs i. It is estimated that for every clinical case there will Preventing facial eczema in sheep 10 cows with subclinical FE. Blood tests can be used to monitor the extent of subclinical FE.
Badly damaged liver tissue will not regenerate. The fungus grows on soft litter at the base of the pasture so hard grazing during danger periods increases the risk of spore intake as does topping which increases the build-up of soft litter. There is no cure for FE so prevention is the only way of protecting animals.
To be effective, preventative measures need to be in place before eczema spores are found.
Preventative measures include monitoring pasture spore count and either dosing animals with zinc or spraying pastures with a fungicide. Breeding cows that are more tolerant to facial eczema is a solution to reduce the impact from facial eczema in the long term.
Facial eczema tolerance is a heritable trait and the right breeding programme can reduce the severity of the disease over time. For a herd starting a breeding programme with FE tolerant sires the first benefits FE tolerance in young stock are not available for 18 months after first insemination. Gains in FE tolerance will be made as each generation of daughters from FE sires enters the herd.
A full herd with FE tolerance is achievable in years. Pasture spore counting is an excellent way to visualise spore count trends and to get a handle on the likely risk. It is highly variable between paddocks but as a guide:. Weigh a representative sample of at least 20 cows of each of the mobs to be treated to Preventing facial eczema in sheep the dose of zinc required.
Fully dose cows with zinc: The more control a farmer has over the amount of zinc a cow receives the more likely it is that the cows are receiving the correct daily dose. Zinc drenching and intraruminal bolus will, for this reason, provide more reliable protection than adding zinc sulphate to drinking water.
Spraying the pasture with a fungicide will slow the development of the fungus and subsequent production of spores.
Check spore counts after spraying and before grazing, to ensure pastures are below acceptable levels. Pasture will be safe for weeks after which they will need to be resprayed or monitored with spore counting. Practical indicators of recovery include liveweight gain and improvement in body condition score BCS. Be aware that animals can take up to 12 months to fully recover. Animals with a previous history of clinical FE have a lower chance of recovery than previously unaffected animals.
When making decisions to cull cows act early before body condition score and the severity of the condition cause unnecessary distress and suffering. If sending cows for processing farmers need to be aware that animals will not be accepted if emaciated or with severe skin damage sores, weeping wounds Preventing facial eczema in sheep.
Put your game face on! Improving Facial Eczema Management webinar series for rural professionals. Watch video two Cattle: Management options including breeding here. The facial eczema prevention management protocol details a list of steps farmers Preventing facial eczema in sheep to take if they are managing facial eczema through the use of zinc or fungicides.
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