Breeding for resistance to facial eczema in dairy cattle

C.A. Morris, N.R. Towers, H.J. Tempero
1991 Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association  
Facial eczema (FE) is a disease of grazing ruminants caused by ingesting spores of the fungus Pithomyces chartarum. The spores contain a toxic compound, sporidesmin, which causes liver injury, sensitivity to sunlight and reduced performance in susceptible dairy cattle. The extent of production losses is summarised. Research at Ruakura has demonstrated that the resistance of animals to FE is inherited, with a heritability estimate of 0.31 in dairy cattle. Genetic progress in dairy cattle could
more » ... airy cattle could bc achieved by progeny testing young bulls, and selecting for use as sires those with the most resistant progeny. However, work over the last decade in sheep at Ruakura has demonstrated the success of selection based on performance testing (i.e. dosing potential sires themselves and using those that are most resistant to the challenge). In January 1990 we began to develop a performance test for use in the preliminary screening of young dairy bulls for FE resistance. The details of these tests are described. Keywords facial eczema, dairy cattle, performance testing, production loss
doi:10.33584/jnzg.1991.53.1993 fatcat:2fv2fkfkk5agzc6lezeqdykk2a