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Facial Eczema Spore Counting

Facial eczema is a disease caused by the fungus Pithomyces chartarum, which produces a toxin (sporidesmin) resulting in liver damage and, on rare occasions, 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 into the clinic for a facial eczema spore count. Your management decisions should ONLY be based on spore counts from your farm.

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How to collect a sample for facial eczema pasture spore counting:

Choose 4 representative paddocks of the farm e.g. north-facing, sheltered, hill etc. Take a sample from each and sample the same paddocks throughout the season.

To collect a pasture sample, cut a handful of pasture 2cm above the ground. Walk in a line from one corner diagonally to another and stop 10 times to collect a handful of grass at each spot. CUT the grass, do not pull.

If there are slopes or hills within the paddock, ensure samples are taken from the slopes as well as the flats.

Do not include soil in the sample. 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 the collection, however if this is not possible it will keep in the fridge overnight.


Label the bag with your farm name, date and paddock name or number.

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