Copper Deficiency

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

(NY; VT) Copper deficiency continues to be diagnosed in Northeast livestock, as exemplified in the following 3 recent cases.

The first (NY; Tioga County) was an adult bison with a history of chronic diarrhea and weight loss, submitted for complete necropsy and ancillary testing. The liver copper was 8.21 ppm with the normal range of 100-500 ppm, on a dry matter basis. Additional ancillary testing has not identified other causes for the diarrhea and weight loss, including testing for paratuberculosis, BVD, heavy parasitism, malignant catarrhal fever, or salmonellosis.

The second submission (NY; Cattaraugus County) included samples from 1 dead and 2 live adult Herford/Angus crossbred beef cattle with unexplained diarrhea, poor appetites and poor body condition. In addition to mild parasitism diagnosed in both live animals with fecal exams, the dead animal had marked copper deficiency (liver copper 5.26ppm w/ 100-500 ppm normal, on a dry matter basis) and moderate selenium deficiency (liver selenium 0.59 ppm w/ 1.0-2.5 ppm normal on a dry matter basis). The dead animal had evidence of terminal septicemia with E. coli, as well as Coronavirus infection. Other causes of diarrhea were ruled out.

A third submission (VT) included samples from 2 adult sheep euthanized and necropsied with a history of severe respiratory disease. Both had pneumonia and evidence of septicemia histologically. Both were seropositive for Ovine Progressive pneumonia (OPP) virus, however the pneumonia seen histologically was not consistent with OPP. In addition, liver copper levels were 12.54 and 17.0 ppm, w/ normal being 100-500 ppm on a dry matter basis.

Profound primary copper deficiency, or secondary copper deficiency associated with an excess of dietary molybdenum has been associated in ruminants with chronic diarrhea and weight loss, as well as a poor hair coat that may also exhibit changes in hair color. In addition, anemia, reduced fertility, and sudden death have been reported. Copper is also considered an important micronutrient for immune function. Adequate copper in diet formulations or trace mineral supplements provided to pasture-fed livestock contribute to providing adequate copper for livestock. NYS soils and forages are expected to be variable in copper content based on specific location.

Map with soil copper in the US.