Copper Deficiency


1 min read

Symptoms Treatment

Copper deficiency in cattle, common during winter/early spring or in fast-growing calves over six months, can lead to issues like weight loss, reduced milk yields, reproductive problems, and anaemia in cows. Calves might show symptoms like poor growth rates, bone fractures, and loss of coordination. Dairy cows typically don't get enough copper from a pasture diet, so supplementation may be needed. However, you should wait two weeks after zinc treatment and avoid copper treatment if the animal has Facial Eczema due to risk of heavy metal poisoning. Always consult your vet if you're unsure.

Copper (Cu) deficiency in cattle is a common and complex problem.

Dairy cows are most likely to be deficient in winter/early spring, coinciding with higher demands over this period for pregnancy and early lactation. Fast growing calves over six months of age are also likely to be deficient.

Symptoms in cows

  • Weight loss
  • Scouring
  • Reduced milk yields
  • Reproductive problems
  • Lightening of coat colour
  • Anaemia

Symptoms in calves

  • Poor growth rates
  • Scouring
  • Bone fractures
  • Lightening of coat colour
  • Loss of co-ordination in hind limbs


In general, early lactating dairy cows will not be getting sufficient copper from a pasture diet, therefore supplementation is likely to be beneficial.

  • Two weeks should elapse after Zn treatment has finished, and animals that have Facial Eczema should not be treated for Cu due to risk of heavy metal poisoning.
  • Be aware that Cu poisoning can occur as a result of excess intakes of Cu (drenches, licks and eating pasture recently fertilised with Cu additives)
  • If in doubt consult your vet.
Last updated: Sep 2023
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