Failure of orally administered zinc to prevent experimentally induced footrot in sheep

Failure of orally administered zinc to prevent experimentally induced footrot in sheep
Peer reviewed

Abstract

Two groups of adult Merino sheep, initially grazed on pasture, were dosed daily with zinc sulphate (1 mg Zn/kg LW) or zinc oxide (15 mg Zn/kg LW) for six and seven weeks, respectively. On the 18th day, both groups were transferred to indoor pens together with unmedicated control sheep, and five days later the feet of all animals were infected artificially with a virulent strain of Bacteroides nodosus. By the fourth week after challenge, 85% or more of the feet challenged had developed advanced footrot, and no significant differences in the incidence and severity of lesions between dosed and undosed groups were recorded. Plasma zinc concentrations, monitored throughout the experiment, remained at similar levels in sheep receiving the lower dose rate and in the controls. At the higher dose rate, plasma zinc levels increased till Day 23, but thereafter declined to values comparable to those of undosed animals. At post mortem, no evidence of zinc toxicosis was found, and only the kidneys of sheep receiving the higher dosage showed a significant accumulation of zinc compared with the controls.

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