What does copper do for horses?
Copper is a trace element and a great supplement, a highly absorbable source, bioplex copper provides 12% elemental copper without additives or fillers. An important trace mineral for whole horse health, copper plays a vital role in many enzymatic processes within the horse’s body.
For example lysyl oxidase enzyme is dependent upon copper and strengthens cross links between collagen and elastin molecules in connective tissue. The health of bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, arterial walls are dependent upon this enzyme and thus the availability of copper from the diet.
Other copper dependent enzymes are involved in the correct functioning of mitochondria, the central nervous system, iron metabolism, healthy haemoglobin levels, production of the pigment melanin and supporting healthy coat, mane and tail hair colour to prevent ‘rusting’ or ‘bleaching’ of the horses hair shaft.
Forageplus forage analysis of horse grass, hay and haylage repeatedly shows that copper is at low levels in forage and other minerals which would act to block the absorption of this important mineral are often high. All must be present in correct concentrations so that the ratios of minerals allow the body the optimum absorption rates to maintain and support optimum health.
Correct copper for horses levels as matched to the ratios found in grass, hay and haylage is important for pregnant mares, foals, young growing horses, older horses and performance sport horses in moderate to heavy work..
Forageplus does not advise the feeding of separate minerals unless levels have been checked through carrying out a forage analysis. The ratios of minerals are important and feeding one mineral without supplementing correct levels of another can be detrimental to horse health. If you are uncertain of mineral levels then feeding either a Forageplus Equine Balancer or carrying out analysis of forage is wise.
- formation of the connective tissues
- Proper function of the horses nervous system
- Energy production
- Iron metabolism
- Helps with hoof problems
- Improves coat colour
- Helps treat skin conditions, also see our skin balancers
Copper and zinc deficiency
A dead giveaway of copper and zinc deficiency, is bleaching of the coat and red ends on black manes and tails. This is typically blamed on sun exposure, which is true, but horses with adequate levels of melanin will not experience these changes.
Melanin is the pigment that gives skin and hair its color. Melanin also protects against UV radiation and chemical damage. Copper (all colors) and zinc in combination with copper (darker colors) are essential for the production of generous amounts of melanin.
even if your horses diet provides adequate copper, high levels of iron or molybdenum could cause a copper deficiency by preventing copper absorption.
Hoof quality also suffers with copper and zinc deficiency. Deficiencies of either copper or zinc have been linked to:
- Soft feet
- Sole hemorrhages
Dramatic improvements in hoof quality are often seen following adequate zinc and copper supplementation.
Only dietary analysis can tell you the precise amounts needed but consider a ballpark figure of 300 mg of copper and 750 mg zinc as the starting point for horses showing outward evidence of deficiency.
Contact us if you have questions you want answered we are always pleased to help.