Copper Deficiency in Angora Goats
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Monday, 26th November 2018

An indicator of the mineral content of the karoo region would be the mineral content of tissues animals that consumed the plants of the area. Angora goats are mixed feeeders and both browse and graze. Springbok (intermediate mixed feeders) would have a similar vegetation nutritional intake to Angora goats.

Studies ( J.B.J. van Ryssen and J.H. Hoon)  have been conducted using Springbok in the karoo for checking copper (Cu), selenium (Se) and manganese (Mn). The tests showed springbok had high concentrations of hepatic copper and selenium in the Karoo region. These results corresponded well with soil characteristics indicative of the availability of mineral elements present. This study confirmed that in the Karoo region it is unlikely that Angora goats would suffer from a Cu or Se deficiencies, in agreement with the map published by Bath (1979) and supporting the Se map published by Van Ryssen (2001).

In one case on a farm between Middelburg and Richmond high soil pH was thought to have precipitated a deficiency in copper. A second case was diagnosed on leached shale/sandstone soils in the mountainous region between Graaff-Reinet and Pearston.  

Normal blood Cu level is >0.80 ppm. Cu has a very narrow safety tolerance and risk. Dietary levels are ideal 5-15ppm. High levels of S ,Mo and Fe supress Cu absorption. CaCo3 and ZnSO4 also supress Cu absorption. Normal levels of Cu found in the liver 100-400 ppm with deficiencies when less than 25ppm.

Cu (Copper) is stored in the liver and new born kids have higher levels of Cu. Cu is important in bone, nerve production (hence ‘swayback’) hair production and the crimp formation.

Signs of deficiencies

  • In animals with pigmented hair are the loss of colour which is not a factor in Angora goats. The formation of a ‘steely ’ fibre (wool/mohair)  where the crimp is lost and the hair breaks easily.
  • Deficiencies also reduce the effective immune system (decreased neutrophil production)   and anaemia.
  • Darcy dark-Class of 1994 (Edited by W.G.VanAlstine) diagnosed a Angora kid that was unable to stand and lay in sternal recumbency. The kids were on pasture being fed a concentrate diet. Caprine Arthritis-Encephalitis(CAE) and  spinal abscesses, trauma and copper deficiency were the main differentials. Blood samples. Blood copper levels were 0.20 ppm. (Deficient is 0.04-0.40 ppm.) The cause of ataxia in this particular kid was presumed to be copper deficiency because of deficient blood copper levels and rapid response to adequate copper in the diet.


Treatments that have been given

Copper supplementation

Always ensure you have a Cu deficiency before you supplement Cu (check liver samples).

If Cu is deficient check Mo and S levels.

Excess copper can cause Enzooitic Icterus or ‘Geelsiekte’. The fibre of sheep/game may turn an orange colour. SEE COPPER TOXICITY

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