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Farm Animal Practice
Assessing the needs of sheep 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.


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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