Facial Eczema Pasture Spore Counting
Facial eczema is a disease caused by the fungus Pithomyces chartarum; which produces a toxin (sporidesmin) resulting in liver damage and photosensitivity. It grows on dead plant material at the base of the sward and thrives in warm, humid conditions.
A good way to determine the risk level of your property is to bring a pasture sample in to the clinic for a facial eczema spore count.
Please note higher spore counts are usually present on north and west facing slopes, in sheltered paddocks and in paddocks with a lot of pasture litter at the base of the sward.
How to collect a sample for facial eczema pasture spore counting;
- To collect a pasture sample, cut a handful of pasture 1cm above the ground. Sample at least 5 different places in the paddock, with each sample site ideally more than 10m apart. Collection from several sites allows for any variation in the paddock.
- If there are slopes/hills within the paddock ensure samples are taken from the slopes as well as the flats.
- Try not to include soil in the sample. Avoid parts of the paddock sheltered by hedges or trees.
- We need roughly a bread bag full of grass to run the test. It is best to bring the pasture sample in on the same day as collection, however if this is not possible it will keep in the fridge overnight.