NO progress can be made in assessing the trace element needs of sheep without first addressing the question of ‘status’. This term means different things to different people but, for the purposes of this discussion, implies the ranking of an individual or flock, with respect to the adequacy of trace element supply in relation to need, across a spectrum ranging from gross deprivation to poisoning. Various indices of status exist for each element, but none are completely reliable. This article outlines their general shortcomings, draws attention to specific failings and provides honest guides to interpretation that should improve the precision of diagnosing trace element disorders and assessing the status of sheep.
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