Cows with "glasses" and stiff, spiky coats, with the appearance of unthriving could be suffering from copper deficiency - and we are often asked about it. Whether this is due to more focus on the problem or an actual feed-related problem is difficult to say.
The norm for copper is 10 mg per kg DM, or approx. 250 mg copper in total. The natural content of the feed typically contributes 100-150 mg, to which the mineral feed adds the remainder, at least 150 mg.
Copper in the feed is dissolved in the digestive system under the influence of chewing, pH and microbes. Cu-metal ions are then absorbed in the digestive tract either directly or via microorganisms.
Copper is found in biochemical processes and in enzymes, and contributes to the synthesis of:
- Haemoglobin (the protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to tissue)
- Keratin (the main component in horns and hair)
- Melanin (protective pigment/solar filter)