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Enough (or plenty of) copper for dairy cattle?

fri, 10 mar 2017
In the past year, some news came out about high copper values in the liver. Chronic excess of copper is bad for kidney function, and also results in reduced resistance after stressful situations. Surrounding countries are also increasingly paying attention to this phenomenon. In 2015, the results of an experiment in the United Kingdom were presented. The conclusion was that at least 40% of dairy cows had excessive copper levels in the liver. Simultaneously, 16% of the animals had a copper deficit. What was the reason?

Although Dutch rations do not seem to have changed, some trends can be pointed out that may be conducive to increasing copper levels in the liver. When limiting the raw protein level in the rations, this generally simultaneously reduces the sulphur level, improving absorption of copper. In the second place, an increasing number of livestock farmers feed ‘to requirement’ by providing both a full mineral feed and concentrated feed.

In view of the interactions between copper, sulphur, molybdenum and iron, it is impossible to issue a single fixed standard for copper in rations. Both deficiency and excess of copper are detrimental to the cow’s health. The copper level in the rations should be adjusted to the levels of the other elements.

In addition to a thorough feed formulation, application of organically bound copper may be a solution. Organically bound copper is always bio-available and reduces the risk of deficiency. On the other hand, organically bound copper is not stored in the liver more than copper from a non-organic source. So is safer for the cow. The mineral feed Mervit Health contains 50% organically bound copper and therefore offers a guarantee of administering the right type and amount of copper, with extra support to the immune system.

Do you want to know more about the benefits of supplying the right copper level? Please contact your Nuscience contact person.