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Zinc: A helpful tool in reducing facial eczema in cattle

Zinc: A helpful tool in reducing facial eczema in cattle

Zinc: A helpful tool in reducing facial eczema in cattle

Zinc disables the harmful effects of the sporidesmin toxin released by the fungal spores of P chartarum that can lead to production losses in cattle and sheep.

Liver damage caused by facial eczema (FE) can occur without obvious skin lesions. This unseen damage results in reduced milk production in current and following lactations¹ as the damaged liver cannot sustain high performance. Young stock can also be affected, often missing live weight targets. In affected sheep fewer ewes become pregnant with decreased lamb survival.²

Production losses, pain and seeking shade occur almost immediately after ingesting the spores, but it may take one to two weeks to see any skin lesions in only a proportion of animals. The cumulative effect of chronic ingestion of a lower spore count of 20,000 can cause significant damage.

The protective dose rate for a moderate FE challenge is 2 g of elemental zinc per 100 kg of liveweight per day.

The Time Capsule® provides rapid, consistent dosing for four weeks in cattle and six weeks in sheep and is the most reliable method of protection in high spore challenge situations. Each animal is administered the capsule relative to their bodyweight requirement, with no residue remaining in the rumen. Repeat treatment in cattle can be given four to five weeks later depending on the spore counts on the farm.

In-shed feeding can deliver a consistent dose, but as many sheds do not have this system, the medicated feed is eaten on a feed pad which is more variable. Dusting zinc over feed also adds another level of variability compared to purchasing a premixed product.

Zinc makes water less palatable, reducing water intake at the high doses needed for protection, even when flavouring agents are used. Adding zinc into both the feed and water to get the correct total dose can be more successful than using one source. Though it is important to be aware of the total dose given to avoid toxicity.

When using zinc oxide and sulphate, blood sample ten cows to monitor the effectiveness of the supplementation.

To help select a suitable zinc product to reduce the impact of facial eczema in your herd, visit your local PGG Wrightson store. View The Time Capsule online in the latest Stock n' Save at

Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, The Time Capsule for Facial Eczema Prevention (Cattle 175-250kg) #A007600, The Time Capsule for Facial Eczema Prevention (Cattle 250-400kg) #A007763, The Time Capsule for Facial Eczema Prevention (Cattle 130-175kg) #A007931, The Time Capsule for Facial Eczema Prevention (Cattle 90-130kg) #A009006 and The Time Capsule for Facial Eczema Prevention (Cattle 400-600kg) #A010857. Always read the registered label before use.

1 Cuttance, E. L., Mason, W. A., & Laven, R. A. (2021). The association of milk-solid production during the current lactation with liver damage due to presumptive ingestion of spores from Pithomyces chatarum by dairy cattle. New Zealand Veterinary Journal 69(4), 201-210.

2 Towers, Neale. (No date). The effects of subclinical facial eczema on animal performance: A review of published and unpublished data.