Experienced ranchers know that a cattle’s diet requires a well-balanced mixture of minerals. In order to provide the nutrients necessary, farmers have to carefully monitor their forage and the condition of their cattle, along with any necessary supplements. Today we’ll be emphasizing the importance of copper to the health of the cattle. Visit our Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch blog to learn more about cattle diets. 

What causes copper deficiency? 

Cattle grazing in pasture are more likely than feedlot cattle to suffer a deficiency. During the fall and winter if cattle are grazing on low quality mature forage, they’re also more likely to develop a deficiency than cattle grazing during the spring and summer. Muck soils can cause a copper deficiency, as the plants grown here can’t absorb enough copper. Soils high in molybdenum also make it difficult for animals to metabolize the copper. 

How does copper absorbency work? 

Generally, copper is not easily absorbed. So when, for example, molybdenum or sulfur levels are too high, copper is not easily metabolized by cattle. Age and breed can also affect copper absorption. 

What are the signs of copper deficiency? 

Some of the first signs are reduced growth in young animals and a loss in body condition in mature animals. You’ll also see a faded and rough coat due to a loss in pigment. 

What happens if copper deficiency is left untreated? 

Eventually, copper deficiency can cause fetal death and lameness in young animals, a poor immune system, diarrhea, and degenerative heart disease and acute heart failure. If copper deficiency is suspected, it can be tested by taking a biopsy of liver tissue.  

What can you do to avoid copper deficiency? 

If you know that your geographic area or soil is prone to deficiency, it can be a good idea to provide supplements. However, it’s important to carefully monitor levels, as cattle (and other animals) can experience copper toxicity. Young animals are much more sensitive to this too, so use caution and only provide the copper that is needed. Visit us on our soil by joining us on an agritour

At Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch, we’re committed to nourishing our cattle to the highest standards so our quality grass fed beef can pass those nutrients along to you. Get yours by visiting our website today.