Copper deficiency in cattle in the Klamath Basin Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9593tz18c

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  • Rapid copper depletion without clinical symptoms of copper deficiency was found in cattle under natural Klamath basin conditions. Copper metabolism was influenced by grass species fed to the animals. Tall fescue, Festuca arundinacea Schreb. 'Altar and 'Fawn', reduced liver copper stores and decreased blood plasma copper and ceruloplasmin activity to a deficiency level in less than four months. Cattle fed during the same time period with quackgrass, Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv., maintained normal blood copper and ceruloplasmin activity levels and increased liver copper stores. Quackgrass was lower than fescue in copper content (4.6 ppm and 6.6 ppm respectively). The average copper/ molybdenum ratio was lower in fescue (2.80) than in quackgrass (3.82). Cattle fed quackgrass grew faster than cattle fed fescue (P <0.001). Copper supplementation of 300, 400 or 1000 mg Cu/head/day (as CuSO₄) did not improve average daily gains. The decrease in daily gains found during July and August in all treatment groups was not alleviated by copper supplementation. Ceruloplasmin activity values below 130 optical density units are considered subnormal under Klamath basin conditions. Plasma copper values were less sensitive indicators of beginning copper depletion in this study than were ceruloplasmin activity values. Copper depletion was associated with plasma copper values of 0.08-0.4 ppm, liver copper values of less than 6 ppm dry weight (d.w.) and ceruloplasmin activity values approaching zero. The relationship between plasma copper and ceruloplasmin activity was found to be curvilinear; calculations of plasma copper from ceruloplasmin activity used by other workers were found inaccurate under conditions of this study. A new test for diagnosis of copper deficiency was developed. The test measures the decrease of uricase (a copper enzyme) activity in the liver and kidneys indirectly by measuring accumulation of uric acid in the blood. (The conversion of uric acid to allantoin is catalyzed by uricase; thus the copper deficiency-caused decrease in uricase activity leads to accumulation of uric acid in the blood.) Three- to four-times higher levels of uric acid were found in copper-depleted cattle when compared to normal cattle. Increasing copper supplementation from zero to 1000 mg Cu/head/ day resulted in an increasing level of copper accumulated in the liver. The relationship between copper supplementation and liver copper was curvilinear, in contrast to results of earlier studies with ruminants. The supplementation of 1000 mg Cu/head/day (approximately 100 ppm, dry feed) resulted in an average liver copper of 400 ppm (d.w.) with no apparent symptoms of copper toxicity. Copper supplementation of 300 mg Cu/head/day was found sufficient to maintain the test animals in positive copper balance. Liver copper accumulation (average of 230 ppm) indicated that long-term copper supplementation of cattle under Klamath conditions should not exceed 300 mg Cu/head/day; higher levels could result in copper toxicity. Liver zinc, iron and molybdenum levels were not affected by the different levels of copper supplementation tested in this study. The influence of water quality on daily gains and on copper metabolism was tested in 1974. Intakes of water from Upper Klamath Lake were lower than intakes of well water (P < 0.001). Animals using well water over a 70-day period showed higher gains, but the difference was not significant. Copper metabolism was not affected by differences in water quality.
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