Factors influencing the incidence of hypocupraemia and responses to copper therapy were investigated in three beef suckler herds calving in spring and early summer. On farm A hypocupraemia was most severe (plasma copper less than 0.4 mg per litre) in March for the cows and in October/November for their calves. On farm B plasma copper levels were 30 per cent lower in five to eight-year-old cows than in two-year-old cows in late November. Administration of copper (100 mg) in late pregnancy significantly increased plasma copper in the suckled calves on farm A but not in their dams after parturition. Growth of the calves was not increased. The alleviation of severe hypocupraemia on a third farm (C) by injecting the calf with copper did not improve growth rate. It is concluded that in some areas a severe seasonal hypocupraemia may be tolerated without loss of productivity.
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