AniMag' n°4

> Animals

Which animals are the most sensitive to copper ?

Copper is a trace mineral for which ruminating animals are much more sensitive than monogastric animals. Sensitivity of animal species to copper deficiency or overload is driven by the magnitude of their homeostatic control. The adjustment to variations in dietary Cu supply is achieved by control of absorption, storage in major organs like liver, and biliary copper secretion. Ruminating animals, which have been facing endemic risks of copper deprivation compared to non-ruminants, have relatively poor control over absorption and avidly store excess copper. Long living monogastric animals may face risks of sub-clinical hepatotoxicity, when copper is used at growth-promoting levels in fattening pigs or used for intestinal health promotion in laying hens. Among ruminants, sheeps are much more sensitive than goats and cattle to copper toxicity. It is hazardous to let sheep graze on a soil just converted from vineyard to pasture. Why vineyards ? Go to the section « Planet » !

Jaundice of the sclera and conjunctiva in a sheep with chronic copper poisoning.