Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 189, Issue 2, pp 456–462 | Cite as

Effect of Injectable Copper and Zinc Supplementation on Weight, Hematological Parameters, and Immune Response in Pre-weaning Beef Calves

  • Guillermo Alberto MattioliEmail author
  • Diana Esther Rosa
  • Esteban Turic
  • Juan Alberto Testa
  • Raul Martín Lizarraga
  • Luis Emilio Fazzio


Copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) deficiency may cause poor weight gain, hematological changes, and immune failure in extensive beef cattle breeding systems. Diagnosis of the deficiency is based on plasma Cu and Zn concentrations; however, there are discrepancies regarding data interpretation. Here, plasma Cu and Zn concentrations are discussed as risk markers. We evaluated the effect of parenteral Cu and Zn supplementation on their plasma concentrations, weight gain, hematological parameters, and antibody titers to bovine herpes virus 1 (BoHV-1). Pre-weaning calves (n = 40; 99 ± 8 kg bw) from a typical breeding area of Argentina with background Cu and Zn deficiency were used. They were assigned to two homogeneous groups in a completely randomized design. Calves were subcutaneously injected with 0.3 mg/kg Cu and 1 mg/kg Zn (supplemented group), or saline solution (control), every 40 days during 120 days. Plasma Cu and Zn concentrations, hematological parameters, and weight were recorded. On days 40 and 80 of the trial, calves were vaccinated with inactivated BoHV-1. Antibody immune response was measured on days 80 and 120. Data were analyzed with a mixed model for repeated measures over time. Before treatment, plasma Cu was low and Zn was adequate in both groups. After treatment, plasma Cu increased and remained within a normal range, whereas plasma Zn remained constant. Supplemented animals had higher weight gain (p < 0.01); higher hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin levels (p < 0.05); and higher immune response to BoHV-1 (p < 0.05). Our results suggest that Cu and Zn supplementation improved daily weight gain and the immune response of pre-weaning calves.


Beef cattle Trace elements Diagnosis Immune response 



This study was supported by a grant from the National Program of Incentives to Teaching and Research, Secretary of University Policies, Ministry of Education of Argentina (Grant No. V243, School of Veterinary Sciences, National University of La Plata). The sponsor had no involvement in the study design, collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data presented in this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All experimental procedures were approved by the Committee for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (CICUAL, for its Spanish acronym), Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina (Protocol No. 58-2-16P)

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio de Nutrición Mineral, Facultad de Ciencias VeterinariasUniversidad Nacional de La PlataLa PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Biogenésis BagóBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Hospital Escuela, Facultad de Ciencias VeterinariasUniversidad Nacional de La PlataLa PlataArgentina

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