According to the latest report from Gribbles Veterinary, national spore counts that cause the devastating disease almost doubled in the five days between 29 January to 2 February 2024.
CRV National Sales and Marketing Manager and vet, Julia Baynes, says the record high temperatures and humidity of this season has created a perfect breeding ground for the fungus responsible for FE.
"A hot and humid season like this year can lead to spore numbers increasing to toxic levels very quickly,” says Julia. “A small amount of rain or dew and just two nights of grass temperatures of 12-13°C can cause spore counts to spike. I’m not surprised to see the numbers starting to climb sharply.”
Julia is encouraging farmers to be proactive about preventing and managing FE by having a prevention plan in place, including zinc supplementation and testing.
“The critical question is always when to start zinc treatment,” says Julia. “The answer varies from farm to farm, so farmers should be doing their own regular spore counting by getting grass samples tested weekly to gauge when counts are on the rise.”
Farmers can also spray fungicide on pasture to reduce the spore load or feed alternative crops.
“This all needs careful planning to ensure the best protection,” says Julia “Spore counts can vary from farm to farm and even paddock to paddock. It’s also important farmers monitor the effectiveness of their zinc supplementation.”
As well as Gribbles Veterinary running the national facial eczema spore monitoring programme, a number of other veterinary clinics also provide this information. Julia says herd testing can also help identify anomalies in milk production.