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Farm Animal Practice
Assessing the needs of cattle for trace elements
  1. Neville Suttle

    Neville Suttle graduated from Reading University with a degree in agriculture in 1961 and subsequently moved to Aberdeen, where he began his specialisation in mineral nutrition with a doctoral study of copper poisoning in pigs at the Rowett Research Institute. From there, he took up a research post at the Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh. He remained at the Moredun for the whole of his career, where he established an international reputation in the field of macro- and trace elements. He has maintained a keen interest in minerals since retiring in 1998, writing and reviewing articles, and running refresher courses for veterinary surgeons, as well as a small consultancy.


THERE is a widespread belief among veterinary surgeons and farmers that cattle have become more susceptible to trace element deficiencies over the years as productivity has increased, with some even thinking that dietary recommendations should be routinely exceeded. Specialists in trace element nutrition have tended to take the opposite view, revising many standards downwards. Which group is right? In truth, probably neither, as the answers lie in the complex relationship between production and trace element function. What is clear is that current estimates of the need for trace elements, based on straightforward 'input must equal output' models, are oversimplistic. A safer approach, as discussed in this article, is to look to the animal for evidence that its needs are not being met and, where necessary, apply appropriate intervention to redress any identified imbalances.

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