Understanding the psychosocial impacts of Facial Eczema

This project aims to outline the social and psychological impacts of Facial Eczema (FE) on livestock farmers, their families, and local communities.


Facial eczema (FE) constitutes a serious threat to New Zealand’s livestock industry. In addition to animal health implications and significant economic losses, farmer wellbeing can be severely affected by FE outbreaks.

While well-recognised anecdotally and in the international scientific literature, it remains difficult to determine the range of social and psychological impacts of animal disease on farmers, their families, and local communities. This is particularly challenging for New Zealand livestock farmers, given that FE globally poses the biggest problem in New Zealand. The challenge is further compounded by the fact that FE has become common in some regions, while only occurring sporadically or not at all in others. However, the situation is evolving due to global climate change, with FE likely to become more severe issue throughout the country. The social and psychological impacts on New Zealand farmers are likely to evolve as well. 

Benefit to farmers/industry

This pilot study will deliver benefits to B+LNZ and New Zealand’s livestock sector by beginning to systematically research the social and psychological impacts of FE. Through in-depth interviews with farmers and rural professionals, this study will identify main impacts on farmers with varying levels of FE occurrence, current management strategies, and remaining gaps in research and practice change efforts. 

Timeline and investment

This project is a 6-month pilot study due for completion October 2022. 

B+LNZ investment into this project is $80,760.

Partners: This project is led by AgResearch and funded by B+LNZ

Lead Scientists: Martin Espig and Suzanne Vallance.

B+LNZ point of contact: Cara Brosnahan.