Lactating Cows Need More Protein and Energy . . .

Private Applicator licenses that farmers and ranchers use to purchase and apply pesticides are renewed on 5-year rotations, and this is the last year of the current rotation. So, what does that mean for you?

For those producers who are currently licensed Private Applicators, their license expires at the end of this year (12/31/2018). There will be new materials and a new test available sometime after July 1 that we should be able to get for Private Applicators in order to renew their license. If a person is currently a licensed Private Applicator, they must wait until after July 1, when the new test and study materials are available, to renew their Private Applicator license.

According to ODAFF, if a person is currently not a licensed Private Applicator, they can take the test in the Private Applicator packets that we currently have at the OSU Extension Office and, if they pass the test, they will receive a Private Applicator license that is valid from now until the end of 2023.

The Role of Copper in Beef Cattle Reproduction

According to Dr. Keith Bailey, the director of the Oklahoma Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory (OADDL), copper (Cu) deficiency has been a common finding in late term cattle abortions and stillbirths over the past 2 years. In a liver sample study from aborted fetuses in western Canada, magnesium, copper, and vitamin E were frequently identified as deficient in aborted fetuses. In addition to reproductive inefficiencies, low copper levels are also associated with poor performance and poor immune response. Copper is involved in many body functions such as hemoglobin formation, bone cell function, pigment production, hair, hoof and horn function, and animal growth. Since a review of all the health problems associated with copper in beef cattle would be too long for this writing, a review of copper deficiency related to reproductive performance will be addressed in this article.

Copper deficiency can be a primary deficiency or a secondary deficiency. An example of primary deficiency is when forages are low in copper. In Oklahoma most legumes such as alfalfa and clovers have adequate amounts of copper. However, most grasses in Oklahoma are deficient in the mineral. Secondary copper deficiency is more common. This is the result of another mineral(s) interfering with the uptake of copper. The most common minerals involved in this are iron, sulphur, and molybdenum. These elements will bind with copper which makes it unavailable to the body. Secondary copper deficiency may occur even if the diet has adequate amounts of copper.

Reproductive problems associated with copper deficiency in cattle are reduced fertility. This may present in many ways. Cattle may fail to conceive on their first breeding. In embryo transfer, embryonic survival was found to be lower. In some studies, overall pregnancy rates were reduced. Another problem with a low copper level is an alteration in reproductive behavior. In this case cows may show normal estrus behavior but do not ovulate. Also, future estrus cycles may be reduced. The effects of low copper levels on reproduction in cows are not consistent. They may be small or substantial. In bulls, evidence suggest that copper deficiency may cause problems in semen quality and decreased libido.

According to Dr. Dave Lalman, Professor and Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Oklahoma State University, producers can evaluate a mineral deficiency problem by reviewing their records. If the producer’s records indicate good pregnancy rates, weaning weights, and no major health problems, then their mineral supplementation program is probably fine. Even if their performance records are good, they may want to follow up with a mineral balance review with the assistance of their nutritionist, veterinarian, or extension educator. The review will evaluate the animal’s requirements and the minerals supplied by the forage, feed, and mineral supplement. Any deficiency should be addressed.

If copper deficiency is suspected in cattle, a producer needs to evaluate the animal’s copper level. This can be accomplished by a blood test or a liver biopsy. Blood levels of copper become low only after using all the copper in the liver. For this reason, blood samples are only useful in diagnosing advanced cases. Since copper is stored in the liver, a liver biopsy will give the best indications of copper status of the herd. A liver biopsy may be obtained from a slaughter animal or a veterinarian may obtain a biopsy specimen from a live animal.

Producers may provide copper to their cattle by variety of methods. Copper may be added to the feed or supplied in a salt/mineral mix. An injectable product is also availa-ble. Recently, a sustained release bolus has been approve for mineral supplementation. Producers that also run sheep need to keep in mind that mineral mixes produced for cattle will be toxic to sheep. For any questions on what methods or products will be best for meeting the copper needs in cattle, producers should consult with their nutritionist, veterinarian, or local county extension educator.

In review, copper deficiency may be a problem in cattle herds grazing native and improved grasses in Oklahoma. Producers should review their cattle records for any indications of health or reproductive problems. Any problems may indicate a need to evaluate the copper status of their cattle. For any additional information about copper deficiency in cattle, producers should contact their nutritionist, veterinarian, or local county educator.

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Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.