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Case study of copper poisoning in a British dairy herd
  1. C. A. Bidewell, BVetMed, MSc, MRCVS1,
  2. J. R. Drew, BVetMed, MRCVS2,
  3. J. H. Payne, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MRCVS3,
  4. A. R. Sayers, BSc, DipStat4,
  5. R. J. Higgins, BVM&S, MSc MRCVS5 and
  6. C. T. Livesey, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS6
  1. Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) Bury St Edmunds, Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 2RX, UK
  2. Mildmay Farm & Stud, Larksborough Farm, Whitchurch, Hampshire RG28 7PN, UK
  3. AHVLA Sutton Bonington, The Elms, College Road, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough LE12 5RB, UK
  4. AHVLA Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK
  5. AHVLA Lasswade, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ, UK
  6. Givendale House, Leppington, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 9RL, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence cornelia.bidewell{at}


Following the initial diagnosis of chronic copper poisoning (CCP), the copper (Cu) status of a British dairy herd was investigated. Eight fatal cases of CCP were identified over a 17-month period, from December 1999 to May 2001, involving seven Jersey cows and one Holstein-Friesian; seven cows were dry when CCP occurred. Case diagnostic criteria were necrotising hepatopathy associated with abnormally high liver and kidney Cu concentrations. Analysis of the ration for the high-yielding Jersey cow group revealed about 50 mg Cu/kg dry matter intake (DMI). Risk factors predisposing to fatal CCP were Jersey breed, previous high yield, first two weeks of the dry period and moderately high dietary Cu (greater than 40 mg Cu/kg DMI).

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