Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is calling on farmers to take part in a groundbreaking Facial Eczema research project by collecting sheep poo.
The three-year study will help B+LNZ understand how widespread Facial Eczema is in New Zealand. It will help fill gaps in our understanding of its prevalence and whether a warming climate is having an effect on its distribution.
The disease, associated with a toxin-producing fungus, affects pasture grazing livestock in the North and South Island of New Zealand and there is no cure.
The toxin can cause permanent liver damage resulting in photosensitivity and sunburn. If the animal survives, its production will be limited for life.
B+LNZ’s Economic Service estimates the annual cost of Facial Eczema to the New Zealand sheep, beef, dairy and deer sectors to be around $332m.
B+LNZ Sector Science Strategy Manager Suzi Keeling says those who volunteer to take part in the research will be playing an integral role in shaping future tools and solutions for Facial Eczema management.
“To ensure we get an accurate picture of Facial Eczema from every corner of New Zealand, we are looking for 350 enthusiastic farmers, 22 each from 16 regions around New Zealand, to collect samples from October to May each year for three years,” she says.
“We want samples collected across New Zealand regardless of whether farms have experienced Facial Eczema in the past. B+LNZ will provide instructions, sampling kits and cover the costs to courier samples to the laboratory.”
Those participating in the study would be required to collect samples 16 times, roughly every two weeks, from their mob of sheep each year of the study.
Keeling says the samples would need to be taken form the same mob of sheep throughout the season, but a different mob can be used each year.
“It’s as simple as taking a walk in a paddock, there’s no need to yard the animals. Just scoop up 10 individual fresh samples from the ground,” she says.
“In return for the samples, B+LNZ will provide faecal spore count results as soon as lab testing is completed, access to a monthly updated map showing spore counts around the country and a Prezzy Card at the end of the season if you are able to send all the samples in.”
Farmers can express their interest in participating in the Facial Eczema research study by registering their details below.
For more information, please contact James Ford on 027 235 9806 or email@example.com