Effects of copper, zinc and selenium status on performance and health in commercial dairy and beef herds: retrospective study


A retrospective study using analysis of plasma copper and zinc, and erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase from 2 080 dairy and beef cow herds was conducted to evaluate the relationship between trace-element status and production, reproduction and health in cows and their calves. Classification of the herd status as deficient, marginal, low-adequate or high-adequate was based on the lower tercile of individual values. Odds ratios for each disorder in herds were calculated by multivariable stepwise logistic regression. Inadequate copper status was not associated with adult disorders, but was an important risk factor for poor calf performance or health. Selenium deficient status was associated with most studied disorders in cows, and both deficient and marginal herd status were strongly associated with poor health of calves, particularly with increased risks of myopathy and infectious diseases. Zinc insufficiency was strongly associated with low milk production and impaired locomotion in dairy herds, and was also associated with diarrhoea and poor growth in calves. Because a low-adequate status increased the risk of many disorders in adults and calves, we propose to classify herds as deficient and marginal when the lower terciles of plasma zinc concentration are below 12 and between 12 and 14 lmol/l respectively

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