Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Facing Facial Eczema and Raising the Bar

Media Release
4 November 2013

Facing Facial Eczema and Raising the Bar

New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics company is raising the bar in an effort to reduce the impact of facial eczema heading south and becoming more prevalent throughout New Zealand.

Focus Genetics chief executive Gavin Foulsham says they are upping the game and testing more sheep than ever before to breed rams which are resistant to facial eczema.

“We have been testing for facial eczema resistance for over 20 years and we are now seeing the benefit of continued selection. But we need to keep improving our genetics and keep on top of facial eczema, which is becoming more prevalent in many areas throughout the North Island.

“Facial eczema resistance is a highly heritable trait so farmers can significantly manage the disease in their ewe flocks by selecting for facial eczema tolerant rams.”

Facial Eczema is a disease which animals pick up by ingesting fungal spores in the pasture. It attacks the liver and affects their metabolism. The disease impacts on fertility, meat production, wool production and growth rates as well as animal welfare. In a bad year a farmer could lose a significant number of their ewe flock as animals die.

Focus Genetics Senior Animal Breeding Scientist Geoff Nicoll says the company has tested its Romney rams extensively over the last 23 years and its Highlander rams over the last 6 years.

“We test mainly young rams as ram hoggets in autumn and we use the selected rams to sire the next generation. This ensures we are getting better genetic resistance. We test more rams than any breeder in the country which gives us high selection pressure.”

And the intensive programme is paying off with SIL ranking Focus Genetics rams as the top five highest facial eczema resistant rams in the country recently.

Facial eczema is most prevalent in late summer and early autumn when the weather conditions are more humid. It’s a real concern in areas like Northland, the central and upper North Island as well as the East Coast.

King Country farmer Roger Beck has been using facial eczema resistant rams over his Romney ewe flock for 20 years and says he has never had a problem with the diseases even though it’s highly prevalent in the Taumarunui area where he farms.

“Facial eczema tolerant rams have always been a priority for us and now we have a flock which is resistant to facial eczema. It’s a disease which limits production significantly, so if you can do something about it, you should.”

Mr Beck runs 3300 Romney ewes and uses both Romney and Primera rams, both breeds sourced from Focus Genetics

“This combination works really well because we can get the high fertility and facial eczema resistance through the Romney and then we get the high yield and high growth rates from the Primera too.”

Mr Beck generally docks about 155 percent each year and despite the drought, he’s on target to crack it again this year.

“It’s all very well to have facial eczema resistant sheep but you never want to do anything at the expense of production. We are getting great results in all areas and maintaining strong production so we couldn’t be happier with our Focus Genetics rams.”

Focus Genetics Romney breeder, Ken Burt says Facial Eczema has always been a prime driver on his Romney stud.

“We need to be so much more conscious these days because there are facial eczema hot spots all over the country. If sheep are susceptible to facial eczema they won’t perform, so we have a very advanced programme which works well.”

Mr Burt says he sells over 1000 eczema resistant rams each year and they are becoming increasingly popular as farmers try to combat the disease.

“We have made a significant difference. Our Romney rams are now 6 times more resistant to facial eczema than they were 20 years ago.

“The more farmers can be educated about this the better. Facial eczema is a terrible disease that will keep raising its ugly head if we don’t keep raising the bar.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Budget Policy Statement: Spending Wins Over Tax Cuts; Big Ticket Items Get Boost

Income tax cuts are on hold as the government says “responding to the earthquakes and reducing debt are currently of higher priority”, although election year tax sweeteners remain possible. More>>

ALSO:

Fishy: Is Whitebaiting Sustainable?

The whitebait fry - considered a delicacy by many - are the juveniles of five species of galaxiid, four of which are considered threatened or declining. The SMC asked freshwater experts for their views on the sustainability of the whitebait fishery and whether we're doing enough to monitor the five species of galaxiid that make up whitebait. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: Smaller-Than-Expected Four-Month Deficit

The New Zealand government's accounts recorded a smaller-than-forecast deficit in the first four months of the fiscal year on a higher-than-expected inflow of corporate and goods and services tax. More>>

ALSO:

On For Christmas: KiwiRail Ferries Back In Full Operation After Quake

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries are back in full operation for the first time since the Kaikoura earthquake, with the railspan that allows rail wagons to be loaded on the Aratere now restored. More>>

ALSO:

Comerce Commission Investigation: Prosecutions Over Steel Mesh Labelling

Steel & Tube Holdings, along with two other companies, will be prosecuted by the Commerce Commission following the regulator's investigation into seismic steel mesh, while Fletcher Building's steel division has been given a warning. More>>

ALSO:

Wine: 20% Of Marlborough Storage Tanks Damaged By Quake

An estimated 20 percent of wine storage tanks in the Marlborough region, the country’s largest wine producing area, have been damaged by the impact of the recent Kaikoura earthquake. More>>

ALSO:

ACC: Levy Recommendations For 2017 – 2019 Period

• For car owners, a 13% reduction in the average Motor Vehicle levy • For businesses, a 10% reduction in the average Work levy, and changes to workplace safety incentive products • For employees, due to an increase in claims volumes and costs, a 3% increase in the Earners’ levy. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news