Trace element metabolism, dietary requirements, diagnosis and prevention of deficiencies in deer

Trace element metabolism, dietary requirements, diagnosis and prevention of deficiencies in deer
Peer reviewed


The first deer farms were established in New Zealand about 30 years ago. Extensive studies on trace elements in sheep and cattle have resulted in clarification of the requirements of those species and the development of protocols to diagnose and prevent deficiencies. In contrast, there have been very few studies conducted with deer. This review summarises information available on trace element nutrition of deer and concludes that, in New Zealand, cobalt (Co), vitamin B12, selenium (Se) and iodine (I) deficiencies are of lesser importance than copper (Cu), which can have a significant impact on deer health and performance. However, on individual farms, Se and I deficiency may cause significant production losses if not managed appropriately. There are no reports of production limitations caused by Co deficiency. Copper deficiency manifests itself as clinical disease, namely enzootic ataxia and osteochondrosis. Growth responses to Cu supplementation have only been reported in 2/11 trials and were not predicted from low serum and/or liver Cu concentrations. On the basis of clinical signs of Cu deficiency, the proposed reference ranges used to predict Cu status from serum Cu concentrations (μmol/l) are: 5, deficient; 5-8, marginal and; 8, adequate; and for liver Cu concentrations (μmol/kg fresh tissue) are: 60, deficient; 60-100, marginal and; 100, adequate. Copper supplementation strategies based on Cu-EDTA injections, Cu-oxide needles or the application of Cu to pasture are effective at increasing Cu status for varying periods. More recent research suggests that alternative forage species that have a high Cu content (10 mg/kg dry matter (DM), may play a role in the prevention of Cu deficiency.
KEY WORDS: Deer, cobalt, selenium, copper, iodine, deficiencies, clinical signs, treatment, prevention

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