Accurate diagnosis and appropriate management are essential for effective maintenance of an adequate copper (Cu) status of farmed deer. Deer with liver and serum concentrations below 60 µmol/kg fresh tissue and 5 µmol/L, respectively, are at risk of clinical disease or reduced growth rate. Deer with adequate serum Cu may have low liver Cu concentrations, but those with low serum Cu usually have low liver Cu concentrations. No sex differences in tissue Cu concentrations have been reported. Tissue Cu concentrations fluctuate seasonally, being lowest in late winter-early spring, and commonly with greater reduction from autumn to spring in adults than in younger deer. There is insufficient known about the Cu metabolism of deer to enable a prediction of future Cu status to be made. Analysis of forage is warranted as an aid to establish the underlying cause of deficiency and to assist management decisions. Oral Cu oxide wire particles and injectable Cu/EDTA are licensed animal remedies for Cu supplementation in deer. Treatment frequency depends on tissue concentrations, dietary factors, production goals and nutritional management. Recent research shows high rates of Cu sulphate application to pastures and grazing chicory can also elevate deer tissue Cu concentrations. Monitoring the efficacy of supplementation using changes in liver Cu concentrations is essential.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 315-318, 2002
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