Time is running out for farmers to take part in a unique study aiming to better understand the extent of Facial Eczema (FE) in New Zealand.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is seeking 350 enthusiastic farmers, 22 each from 16 regions around New Zealand, to collect sheep poo samples from October to May each year for three years.
Farmer have until the end of November to register their interest in the initiative, which will help build the sector’s knowledge about the prevalence and the potential influence of a changing climate on facial eczema distribution.
Dr Suzi Keeling, B+LNZ Sector Science Strategy Manager, says 200 farmers have already signed up for the study, but the programme is seeking more farm businesses to take part.
“We still need more individuals to help us reach our target of 350 farmers. We need a range of participants from all corners of the country, whether their farm has been affected by FE before or not."
In addition to farmers, there has also been interest from schools hoping to participate in the programme, she says.
"We're actively exploring ways to involve schools in our research. This presents a unique opportunity to engage young minds in sample collection and understand the results. It could spark an interest in agricultural science careers, which is crucial for the long-term success of our sector."
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.
Farmers can register their interest in participating in the Facial Eczema research study by registering their details here.
- Check out B+LNZ’s Breakfeed podcast.
- Listen to B+LNZ’s Principal Advisor Animal Health Research Cara Brosnahan in the Head Shepherd podcast with Mark Ferguson.
- In this Facebook video, Wormwise Programme Manager Ginny Dodunski walks people through how and how much sheep poo you need to collect for each sample.
- Watch a B+LNZ Knowledge Hub video on sub-clinical FE.