Mineral nutrition in sheep can be quite complicated. There are almost 15 minerals that have been demonstrated to be essential in sheep nutrition. Copper (Cu) requirements of sheep are dependent on dietary and genetic factors and therefore it is almost impossible to develop a set of well-defined requirements. Sheep accumulates copper in liver more readily than any other livestock and thus are highly susceptible to copper toxicity. In addition dietary requirement of copper is comparatively less in sheep and dietary copper utilization is highly variable in sheep depending on physiological state and age. It is essential for wool production and is involved in the animalís immune response to disease challenges. Young sheep are more susceptible to Cu deficiency as milk is a poor source of copper. Placental transfer of Cu is less efficient in sheep because of low liver Cu reserves in ewe. Copper deficiencies in sheep can be either primary or secondary, depending on the nature of deficiency and involvement of other factors. In primary copper deficiency in sheep, enzootic ataxia is the major manifestation. Secondary copper deficiency in sheep is mainly associated with swayback, teart, reduced body growth, bone fragility and lameness due to spontaneous fractures.
Copper, Sheep, Deficiency, Health and production