by Mike Neary
Extension Sheep Specialist
Purdue University

Sheep are unique among food and farm animals in the way they utilize copper. Copper is a required mineral for all farm animals and also is potentially toxic to all of the food-producing animals. Sheep are the most susceptible of all food-producing animals to copper toxicosis.
Copper nutrition in sheep is quite complicated. It is a required mineral for sheep, yet highly toxic. Copper status of sheep is influenced by breed, age of animal, health status of animal, levels of other minerals consumed, and even levels of some feed additives in the diet.

Copper metabolism in sheep is influenced by the breed or crosses of breeds the sheep are. Generally, the down type, medium wool sheep of British or European origin, are the most susceptible to copper toxicity. Sheep from Texel breeding are the most susceptible to copper toxicity. Fine-wool type sheep are intermediate in susceptibility to copper toxicosis, while sheep with a high percentage of Finnsheep breeding are least susceptible to copper toxicity.

This article first appeared in 2002 in Indiana Sheep Tales

To read more from this paper go HERE

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