Copper (Cu)

A distinction is made below between the role of copper in livestock and copper in soil and crops.

Copper in animals

Copper (Cu) is a trace element, meaning that it is an essential element needed only in very small amounts in the body. Copper is important for the production of red blood cells, pigment, hair, connective tissue and the metabolic process (activation of enzymes). Copper is stored in the liver. Lactating calves and lambs depend on this supply, as milk is low in copper.

Copper Requirements (CVB, 2016).
Category g/kg dry matter g/animal/day
Young cattle from 4 months 14.5 56
Young cattle from 9 months 16.4 9
Young cattle from 16 months 18.1 132
Dry 8-3 weeks to calving 24.1 277
Dry 3-0 weeks to calving 25.2 277
Lactating (20 kg) 12.2 227
Lactating (40 kg) 11.1 260


Copper deficiency in animals
Copper deficiency leads to anemia and gives a dull, shaggy hair coat, discoloration of the hair around the eyes ("copper goggles"), thickened bullets, diarrhea, and reduced milk production. Young cattle at the end of the grazing period are at relatively high risk of copper deficiency and may therefore lag behind in development.

Despite a good copper supply, deficiency may still occur, due to poor utilization of copper in the feed. Proteins and iron can inhibit copper absorption. In addition, Sulphur and molybdenum can form non-degradable complexes with copper in the rumen.

Copper excess in animals
Copper excess quickly causes poisoning in sheep and, at higher amounts, in dairy cattle. The consequences are liver damage, breakdown of red blood cells, anemia, necrosis, jaundice and, in severe cases, death. The CVB (2005) gives a toxicity limit for copper in cattle of 40 mg/kg dry matter (at chronically high levels). The legal maximum is 35 mg/kg full ration (88% dry matter) for cattle and 15 mg/kg for sheep.

By performing the Ration Check from Eurofins Agro, you can be sure of the copper levels in your mixed ration contains and many any adjustments, if necessary.

Copper in soil and crop

Copper is also necessary in small quantities for the development of crops. Copper deficiency is more likely in peaty and poorer sandy soils; when the soil is alkaline and contains a lot of organic matter, crops will absorb a relatively large amount of molybdenum and Sulphur at the expense of copper.

Copper, like boron, is important for grain establishment in corn. The amount of copper in the soil can be examined at Eurofins Agro via the 'trace package' of the analysis Fertilizer Manager.

Types of roughage with an average level of copper include grass and grass silage, while silage maize and CCM contain somewhat lower levels. In grass silage, copper levels have dropped significantly due to stricter fertilization standards in recent decades. Good copper sources include cereals and rapeseed.

Copper content (mg/kg dm); Eurofins Agro 2009-2013
  Fresh grass Grass silage Maize silage Lucerne
Average 8.8 7.8 3.7 8.9
Target range - 12.0-15.0 - -



Ration Check

Fertilization Manager