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Topic-icon Finnish landrace sheep with facial eczema

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1 month 1 week ago #544928 by maringi

Hi fellow lifestylers.
I have inherited 13 Finnish Landrace sheep from north of Auckland and they arrived in Masterton with facial eczema.
One or two are quite bad - one has even lost an ear, while most have a few spots on their nose and/or ears.
I understand they had been having zinc cream which I will attempt to keep doing but its not going to be easy.
I've never had this before so would appreciate any advice.
My Wiltshires never seemed to have a problem with it - either that or my property isn't susceptible..
Will it go away untreated? Should I buy a dispenser for the trough? Should I cull the very bad ewes?
I have plenty of grass so not grazing them on anything short (its a mix of clover and meadow, with a bit of ryegrass).
Thanks,

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1 month 1 week ago #544929 by Mudlerk

Hi Maringi,
The eczema is not, unfortunately, the serious part of the disease that is very badly named "Facial Eczema". The eczema is severe sunburn, caused by liver damage from eating damp, browned-off grass which had been colonised by a fungus. The spores from the fungus damage the liver and [I'm a bit foggy on just how this next bit happens] that causes the poor animal's skin to become hyper-sensitive to sunshine!
There is no cure. My advice would be to cull any sheep that are suffering, and try to breed replacements [the liver damage is not passed on to offspring] from the rest.

The following user(s) said Thank You: maringi

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1 month 1 week ago #544930 by maringi

Thanks for that, I will have to cull a couple of them in that case. I was concerned about breeding from them. Luckily we are much drier than where they have come from so hopefully the others will be OK.

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1 month 1 week ago #544931 by Tui Ridge

It will depend on how bad their livers are damaged on whether you can help them or not. 1st thing i'd do is get zinc bullets into every single one of them, the zinc boosts the liver function and helps protect against damage. The zinc bullets take about 6 weeks to break down and then they need another if there is still FE spores around. If you dont know haw to administer a zinc bullet get the Vet in to do it or ask around any local sheep farmers to see if someone can help you.

If you dont mind alternative help, Milk Thistle (herb) will help heal / regenerate (to a degree) a damaged liver, I've had 1 vet give me a (very expensive!) powder designed for animals to help combat FE liver damage (this was for an alpaca but same difference!) and when I got it realised the active ingredient was milk thistle. Since I have access to pharmaceutical grade milk thistle tincture - I then used that (poured over alpaca nuts) to treat the FE and the following year got the vet to do blood tests again and the paca's liver function was perfect (he was a teenager though - so still growing). I have a feeling you can get dried milk thistle herb from some of the Equine Herb places.


Me and hubby and 2 boys, Alpacas, Arapawa sheep, Lowline cattle, lots and lots of chooks and ducks ;)

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1 month 1 week ago #544932 by LongRidge

Check that it is actual "Facial Eczema", and not just photo-sensitisation from eating weeds. This is done by killing one and looking for hardening of the liver in places or all over. Also, very often the meat stinks, so freeze it to feed to the dogs. If it does then it is fairly positive that more than 20% of the flock has liver damage caused by FE. These will be the more difficult ones to keep alive during pregnancy and lactation, so don't keep their lambs.
For sheep, zinc in the trough is a useless preventative because even when sheep are thirsty they do not drink enough for protection. Talk to your vet or Farmlands about borrowing an applicator and administering zinc bolus lozenges.

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1 month 1 week ago #544933 by Cigar

There are three issues which you need to deal with, number 1 being preventing further liver damage, which usually means dosing with zinc (applying zinc cream does nothing to prevent eczema, sheep need to be drenched every few days or have a zinc bolus), unless your property is FE safe.
Number 2 is treating the symptoms of the affected sheep. Zinc cream will help with the photosensitivity. Give the animals as much shade as you can, some people even keep them indoors during the day and let them out to graze at night. Watch for flystrike. Culling may be the most humane option for severe cases. Giving non-green feed such as meal may help, as it is the byproducts of chlorophyll breakdown that cause the photosensitivity.
Number 3 is helping the sheep recover from the liver damage. The liver cannot repair itself, but it can grow new tissue to replace damaged tissue. I actually had about a third of my liver removed just under 4 weeks ago, and it should be fairly well regenerated by now. Your vet may recommend some supplements to aid with liver recovery.
There was some research done a while back looking at how to identify which animals (two-tooth sheep i think) would recover from FE liver damage, if I recall correctly there were no conclusive results as some badly affected animals recovered fully while others that appeared only slightly affected never recovered (failed to get pregnant or died later on).

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1 month 1 week ago #544934 by muri

The Finns have quite white skin, like the East Friesians and are subject to sunburn which I am assuming these sheep have as the FE counts have not got high enough for FE in this area, especially to already show clinical indications.
So either these animals had it from last year, or else they have a very bad case of sunburn.
I would expect a full refund. People cant be selling animals with ears falling off. I would probably get a vet to check them so you have a second opinion in case of dispute and the animals could well need treatment

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1 month 1 week ago #544937 by Cigar

muri wrote: ...I would expect a full refund. People cant be selling animals with ears falling off...

That was my first reaction too, then I re-read the original post and saw it says inherited the sheep, not bought the sheep.

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1 month 1 week ago #544938 by muri

Cigar wrote:

muri wrote: ...I would expect a full refund. People cant be selling animals with ears falling off...

That was my first reaction too, then I re-read the original post and saw it says inherited the sheep, not bought the sheep.

F

Forgot that bit by the time I had read the whole thing.
If it is FE and not photosensitivity, then for every sheep that shows clinical signs there is probably one that has FE and breeding from them could end up with problems. Times of stress, such as lambing, will put stress on an already damaged liver. There is also a genetic element in FE insofar as some farmers are breeding for FE tolerance

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1 month 1 week ago #544954 by Anakei

Just a question from one who knows nothing :lol:
If you move sheep with FE to an area that does not have it, can they transfer the spores to the unaffected pasture?


Urban mini farmer and guerilla gardener

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1 month 1 week ago #544961 by Mudlerk

Nope...but the damage to their liver remains, and the only way to find out how bad it is, is to take it out and look at it!
You simply cannot treat facial eczema, but you can remove its cause [more infected grass being eaten], and that will prevent any further damage. The salient question is how well/happily can the animal survive with the damage already done. Tricky, when 'the only way to find out is...'

Last Edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Mudlerk.

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1 month 1 week ago #544968 by Cigar

You can do blood tests for GGT and GDT, which are enzymes that indicate liver damage, but I think the research I referred to earlier found that wasn't a reliable indicator of which animals would survive and perform well long term. It is useful for finding out what proportion of the flock/herd is affected.

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1 month 1 week ago #544998 by Tui Ridge

That is how we used to test our Alpacas, the boy I mentioned above initially tested with the highest level the Vet had ever seen in an animal and survive - next year all levels were well within normal. Then another girl was tested and had a raised level but no where near the boy - at the lower end of the danger level then she dropped dead about a month later. Other alpacas in the same group tested normal.


Me and hubby and 2 boys, Alpacas, Arapawa sheep, Lowline cattle, lots and lots of chooks and ducks ;)

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1 month 1 week ago #544999 by maringi

Well the vet has said there’s no point giving them Zinc bullets as the damage will have been done. I was a bit hacked off because surely it’s just zinc and should be over the counter? Surely it can’t do any harm...

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1 month 1 week ago #545006 by LongRidge

Zinc will not repair any damage. If your land is going to grow Pithomyces after the next shower of rain, then dosing them with zinc a week before the rain would be worthwhile. Zinc in excess is poisonous, and at the level needed for FE protection the dose has to be very close to the poisoning dose.

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