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J Dairy Sci. 1979 Aug;62(8):1195-206.

Trace element deficiencies and fertility in ruminants: a review.


Various minerals (copper, cobalt, selenium, manganese, iodine, zinc, and iron) can influence reproductive performance of ruminants. Reproductive failure may be induced by deficiencies of single or combined trace elements and by imbalances. This review is focused on maladjustments of trace elements leading to impaired breeding performance. Opinion is diverse as to the existence of various reproductive disturbances from either a severe copper depletion or a marginal dietary copper deficiency. Field experience suggests that administration of cobalt to ruminants on cobalt-deficient diets improves their impaired breeding performance. Selenium infertility in ewes is more prevalent in some areas and in some seasons, but the actual cause of this malady and the continuing role of additional factors are unknown. Manganese is necessary for normal fertility in ruminants, and feeding low-manganese rations depresses conception rates. Lack of iodine impairs thyroid activity and also ovarian function. Reproductive failure in the female and in spermatogenesis are manifestations of zinc deficiency. Despite forages rich in iron, low availability in certain instances could affect adversely ruminant reproduction. Knowledge of biochemical dysfunctions from trace element deficiencies is essential to determine the role which trace elements play in fertility of ruminant animals.

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