DairyNZ regional leader for Taranaki, Katrina Knowles, says facial eczema has been a real issue region-wide this year, with most dairy herds affected by it.
“Addressing facial eczema now will reduce issues arising in spring, with implications for animal health, production, reproduction and workload on-farm,” says Katrina.
“Cows with facial eczema will struggle to put weight on right up to calving, so farmers need to plan now. Identifying affected cows and giving them preferential treatment will really pay off for the upcoming calving, mating and spring season, when cows need to be at their best.”
Katrina advises farmers to act now – separating facial eczema cows out from the main herd and giving injectable vitamin B12 to stimulate appetite. Preferential feeding will also improve body condition score (BCS), taking them closer to the optimum BCS 5.0 for mature cows or 5.5 for first and second calvers.
“The cow’s ability to put condition on before calving remains the biggest challenge now. The rapidly increasing demands of the unborn calf mean a cow is unlikely to put on condition in the three weeks before calving,” says Katrina.
Along with preferential feeding, farmers should continue other treatments such as magnesium during the dry period and consider minerals such as copper, selenium and cobalt.
“Farmers should continue putting zinc cream on affected white areas of the coat and udder, calcium drench at calving and continue with lime flour post-calving,” says Katrina.
“Confront the issue – making the hard calls now will minimise the impact in spring, when both people and animals are already under pressure.”
A veterinarian or farm consultant can assist farmers with developing a plan.
For more information on facial eczema management, click here.
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