Monday, 20 July 2020 09:19

New research on FE tolerance testing

Written by  Staff Reporters
FE causes damage to the bile system of the liver of the animal which can reduce a ewe’s lifetime productivity by 25%. A secondary effect is photosensitisation, which causes skin reddening and peeling, leaving affected area susceptible to other infections. FE causes damage to the bile system of the liver of the animal which can reduce a ewe’s lifetime productivity by 25%. A secondary effect is photosensitisation, which causes skin reddening and peeling, leaving affected area susceptible to other infections.

A pilot study investigating the potential of a facial eczema (FE) tolerance test is being launched this month.

The purpose of this pilot study, which is being led by AgResearch’s Dr Axel Heiser and funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), is to test the feasibility of a laboratory-based test to determine an animal’s tolerance to the toxin associated with FE. 

If initial results look promising, the test will require further development and full validation to make it a readily available test for breeders and commercial farmers. 

FE has been around in New Zealand for over 100 years. 

The cause of the disease is attributed to the toxin sporidesmin, produced by the fungus Pithomyces chartarum. This spore-producing fungus sits in the litter at the base of pasture swards.

Sporidesmin causes damage to the bile system of the liver of the animal which can reduce a ewe’s lifetime productivity by 25%. A secondary effect of the liver damage is photosensitisation, which causes skin reddening and peeling, leaving affected area susceptible to other infections. It is suspected that for every clinical case of FE there are 10 more with the disease.

This disease causes significant production losses and impacts on the welfare of affected animals. It has been estimated that in a bad year, FE can cost the country $266 million in lost production.

More common in warm, moist environments, a changing climate means FE is likely to spread further into southern regions over time.

Most research into FE is historical and limited management tools are available. This is despite the significance of FE and the length of time it has been affecting livestock in NZ. 

“This (latest) work is a great example of B+LNZ investing in research now to find solutions to a problem that farmers face now and that will become worse over time” says Dan Brier, B+LNZ’s general manager farming excellence.

The pilot study gets underway this month and results are expected by March 2021. If the pilot is successful – and funding can be secured – validation and implementation of the test is expected to be completed by late 2022.

Heiser says that with new science approaches and technologies, there is an opportunity to find a solution to this serious issue for New Zealand farmers. 

Alongside this proof-of-concept work, B+LNZ will be working with Heiser to build a collaborative funding bid to for a larger research programme to investigate the knowledge gaps of FE in New Zealand. 

This programme aims to provide several new strategies to reduce the occurrence and impact of FE for farmers. 

• For more information about Facial Eczema go to: https://beeflambnz.com/knowledge-hub/PDF/facing-facial-eczema

More like this

FE threat to fertility

Warm, wet weather creates perfect conditions for facial eczema (FE) and, given the right conditions, the risk of the disease could persist until May.

Featured

 

Limited feed puts ewes at risk

Severe feed shortages in parts of the country mean many ewes are on a nutritional knife-edge heading into lambing and could be at risk of developing metabolic disorders.

Jack’s unique solution

Jason Jack was left with severe spinal injuries after a wakeboarding accident when he was 29, but that hasn’t stopped him getting out and about in difficult environments.

National

A ticking time bomb

Our dairy industry risks being exposed to a ‘ticking time bomb’ of unethical players unlawfully passing off New Zealand-made and…

Nervous wait for winter

The unknown of what winter will bring is very much on the mind of the Hawkes Bay Rural Support Trust…

Be careful, Potatoes NZ!

Moves by the NZ potato industry to have anti-dumping tariffs imposed on European imports could play into the hands of…

China keeps dairy prices high

Whole milk powder (WMP) prices are now sitting above pre-Covid-19 levels and New Zealand farmers can thank a resurging Chinese…

Machinery & Products

Hydrogen excavator a first

While most motive industries are focused on hybrid or EV power plants, JCB has developed the construction industry’s first hydrogen-powered…

Jack’s unique solution

Jason Jack was left with severe spinal injuries after a wakeboarding accident when he was 29, but that hasn’t stopped…

HP and digital tech combo

The latest New Holland T8 GENESIS is said to capitalise on the productive combinations of Stage V horsepower and digital…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Spell check

Your old mutt was not surprised to see the NZ Dairy Industry Awards hastily remove the title of this year’s…

About time!

Your canine crusader has been a long-time critic of NZ governments – of all stripes – who, for the past…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter