Copper Deficiency in Cattle Can Reduce Conception Rates

Last week Beth Burritt wrote about animals ability to recognize and solve mineral deficiencies. She noted that mineral nutrition is extremely complex and that the amount of a particular mineral an animal will eat depends not only on the level of that mineral in the body but also on its interactions with other minerals. This story from the Beef Cattle Research Council is an example of those mineral interactions and their negative effects on our livestock. Garret Hill couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  Cattle had plenty of grass, clean water, a standard mineral mix in front of them, they appeared to be in good condition, yet conception rates among cows and heifers on his family’s central Saskatchewan ranch were declining. This problem came to a head about six years ago. Their area around Duval, about an hour north of Regina, had experienced a succession of particularly wet growing seasons. There was plenty of grass and a relatively deep (150 foot) well on the farm supplied water to the herd as needed during the year. “We didn’t know what was wron

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3 thoughts on “Copper Deficiency in Cattle Can Reduce Conception Rates

  1. Any cattle-buyer wanna be can identify fill. It takes a little knowledge to answer questions like: Why have these slicked off already? Why haven’t these slicked off yet? Why is the tips of the hair a different color? Why are the front appendages a little bigger? There are early signs something is out of balance. The trick is being able to identify them

  2. I have very similar experience (liver biopsy, blood work et al) with selenium deficiency that presented as still borns and retained placentas. Sulphur and iron competes with it as well.

  3. Thank you for a fascinating and important article. The only thing I would add is to remind folks that it is not just copper. A lack of many different minerals (or interfering factors) can cause similar reproductive or other herd health problems. And here’s the thing: the rancher can absolutely NOT discern what the problem is. My advice is exactly the same:

    Find a competent ruminant nutritionist
    Send in some blood tests
    Design a custom mineral mix to overcome the problem

    And no matter what your neighbor or your grandpa tells you, a salt block is NOT enough.

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