Ingestion of the spores of Pithomyces chartarum by sheep causes liver injury with a resultant rise in the blood concentration of the liver enzyme, gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT). This paper collates results concerning the effects of facial eczema (as determined by GGT levels) from 2 trials carried out in the autumn of 1981. Wash counts of spores in pasture ranged from nil to 130 000 for 45 days in February- March. Levels of GGT were determined about 1 month later. Factors significantly associated with GGT levels included premating shearing, age, nutrition level (erratic response), and ewe selection line. High levels of GGT were associated with depressed ewe performance. For each 100 iu/l increase in GGT, ewe mating and subsequent weaning weights declined by up to 0.3 and 0.4 kg respectively. Litter birth and weaning weights declined by up to 0.15 and 0.6kg/100 iu. Similarly the proportions of ewes lambing and lambing multiples were reduced by up to 2.5%. For a modest outbreak of facial eczema causing a rise in GGT of 200 iu/l, the loss in weight of lambs weaned could be as high as 13%.

WL, Lowther, and TN Barry

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 45, , 125-128, 1985
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