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‘The figures don’t lie’ - limit FE impact, save thousands

Published on 12/01/2024

FE is a problem throughout the North Island and, to a lesser extent, the north of the South Island. The peak risk period is December through to May.
Adama New Zealand commercial manager
Bryce Simpson says while there is no silver bullet, a comprehensive programme can make a huge difference to farmers’ bottom line.
“The figures don’t lie. Scientific studies
have shown that even sub-clinical FE can reduce milk production in dairy herds by up to 50 per cent. That’s serious money in anyone’s books.”

He says the impact on weight gain for stock
can be equally devastating.
“And there’s a knock-on effect on general
animal health.”

Simpson says a four-step attack is best.

“A mix of herbs in pastures, including plan
tain and chicory; dosing with zinc; breeding using FE tolerant animals, and careful grazing management minimise risk.”

Alongside those, he recommends Adama’s
broad spectrum Chief Fungicide which, he explains, is proven to reduce the build-up of toxic spores.
Constantly present, the spores of the fungus
Pithomyces chartarum, which produce the facial eczema-causing toxin sporidesmin, multiply rapidly in the lower pasture sward in humid conditions.

When ingested, the toxin causes damage to
animals’ liver.

Simpson says 18 to 20 degrees with 90
per cent relative humidity is a handy rule of thumb for accelerated spore multiplication but it’s not wise to rely on ambient conditions alone.

“People will tell you that it ‘hasn’t been that
humid’. But at the base of the sward, it can be much warmer with more moisture – after even a relatively light dew.

“Treating with Chief Fungicide be
fore spore counts reach 20,000, is advised to keep spore levels low.
He says factors such as shading by
hedges and animals being grazed in sheltered valleys can increase FE risk.

“Spore counts are specific to farms
or even areas within a farm.”

When using Chief Fungicide, he
says it is important to ensure full coverage of all areas likely to be grazed, including fence lines, near hedges and under trees.

Simpson says it’s recommended
to use Chief Fungicide with a superspreader, ideally on short or recently grazed pasture.

“It’s vital to get Chief Fungicide into
the base of the sward where the spores are located.” He also suggests spraying early in the morning or after a heavy dew, especially if spraying by helicopter, to ensure Chief Fungicide gets to the base of the plants.
There is no specific withholding period for grazing. Simpson says it could be 24 hours, in an emergency, but ‘the longer the better’. During danger periods, stock should be grazed in treated areas only.
If a heavy rainfall occurs within three days of treatment, the pasture should be resprayed. “But 10 ml of rainfall over a day won’t be a problem.”
For more information on spray timings and how to prevent FE with Chief Fungicide, contact your local Adama commercial manager and visit

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