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Copper status of red deer on the island of Rhum
  1. HS McTaggart,
  2. VP Lowe,
  3. PJ Barden and
  4. JB Gellatly


The mean (+/- sd) liver copper level of 186 red deer (Cervus elaphus) (87 stags and 99 hinds) on the island of Rhum was 51.26 +/- 44.1 ppm dry matter. The level found in the south-east part of the island was significantly higher than elsewhere in hinds, but not in stags. Levels below 20 ppm dry matter, comparable to those found in cases of enzootic ataxia in deer parks, occurred in 18 stags and 20 hinds. Since enzootic ataxia has never been observed on Rhum, it is deduced that low copper status is not of itself the causal factor in that disease. No significant correlation was found between liver copper levels and stocking rate, age, carcase weight, antler weight, antler specific gravity, hind fertility, natural mortality or transferrin phenotype. It is concluded that above a low but perhaps critical level, the copper status of red deer merely reflects the dietary intake of that element.

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