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This research did not define a blood concentration threshold but showed that when blood concentration increased by 100 micrograms per milliliter, there was a 60% reduction in mastitis risk. Research with trace minerals in dry cow diets has been less definitive in showing marked changes in mastitis risk.
A survey of cows involved in two Penn State feeding trials showed cows with elevated serum iron or low serum copper concentrations were at increased risk for mastitis. Iron is an essential nutrient for gram-negative (coliform mastitis) bacteria. The cow’s udder produced compounds such as lactoferrin to bind and prevent bacteria from accessing iron.
Copper is important for immune cell function and antioxidant activity to suppress inflammation. As much as I am emphasizing essential nutrients to support immune function, we need to remember that all nutrients are potentially toxic and when in excess may have negative effects on the immune response.
I am hoping the forthcoming dairy nutrient requirements publication will be addressing immune function as a component to defining nutrient requirements, but don’t hold your breath as there may not be sufficient data to support changes.
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