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Facial Eczema Warning for Farmers

Facial Eczema Warning for Farmers

Facial eczema spore counts are at high levels throughout most of the North Island.

AsureQuality is warning farmers that the risk of facial eczema is high in many regions of the North Island following the prolonged drought and the recent rain which has fallen on very warm soils.

The most recent report from Gribbles Veterinary Laboratory (17th of April) showed counts are at extremely high levels in many districts.

Leo Cooney, Facial Eczema Monitoring Co-ordinator for AsureQuality says that, “The fungusPithomyces chartarum (that produces the toxic spores), thrives on drought desiccated pastures where the surface soil temperatures remain warm following a soaking of rain.”

He says that, “This results in the desiccated litter at the base of the pastures decaying rapidly and providing an ideal medium for the fungi to use as a nutrient, and in turn produce its very toxic spores.”

Although night and morning temperatures may feel cooler, it takes a lot to cool the earth’s soil temps down at this time of the year. Soil temps taken in the Horowhenua last week ranged between 19.3 and 21.5 C, perfect growing conditions for the toxic spores.

Farmers need to remain vigilant and keep precautions fully in place until facial eczema spore counts and soil temperatures drop. Historically our worst outbreaks of facial eczema have followed prolonged droughts, when susceptible livestock are grazing very short pastures.

For the latest facial eczema spore results visit:

AsureQuality is a commercial company owned by the New Zealand Government providing food safety and biosecurity services to the food and primary production sectors. It carries out food quality and safety testing for producers, processors and Competent Authorities around the world.


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