Climatic conditions favouring Facial Eczema and Flystrike | Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Animal Health

Climatic conditions favouring Facial Eczema and Flystrike

Warm and wet climatic conditions mean that it is shaping up to be a bad summer for both flystrike and Facial Eczema.
Wednesday, 12 December 2018

To do

  • Treat animals with zinc.
  • Monitor stock in pastures and remove if possible when rank pasture starts to breakdown.
  • Where possible, make hay or silage off surpluses.
  • Consider selecting FE tolerance in genetic selection criteria.
  • Feed forage crops during high-risk periods.


  • Topping at-risk paddocks

Matt Ward, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s General Manager North Island says frequent rainfall in many areas has made it difficult for farmers to keep on top of pasture quality and dead and rotting drymatter at the base of pastures creates an ideal breeding ground for Facial Eczema (FE) spores.

Some spore monitoring services are reporting high spore counts already – well ahead of the traditional FE season – and anecdotal evidence suggests farmers in many areas are already treating flystrike, also worse in conditions conducive to FE.

“Hot and humid conditions, three consecutive nights of over 12 degrees and mushrooms growing in paddocks and on lawns are all indicators that conditions are favouring FE spores,” says Matt.

Black patches in pasture are also as sign that climatic conditions are favouring fungal growth.

He recommends farmers are proactive and implement an FE prevention strategy such as treating stock with zinc bullets and moving stock away from known FE “hotspots” on farm.

Feed crops such as pasja, chicory, plantain and rape don’t typically harbour FE spores so are a favourable feed option when FE spore counts are high.

While making hay or silage off pasture paddocks will help by exposing the base of the pasture to sunshine, topping can exacerbate the problem by leaving dead drymatter on the pasture creating the warm, damp, dark environments favoured by FE spores.

FE, which affects the liver of livestock, can cost the industry millions of dollars in lost productivity. While the clinical signs of the disease, including severe light sensitivity, are distressing for both livestock and farmers, subclinical symptoms can cause production losses and impact on ewe fertility.

Resources for Facial Eczema

For more information about FE, including breeding for FE tolerance go to:

The following are previous B+LNZ FE articles which may have useful information: