Skip to main content Accessibility help

Influence of dietary copper sulphate supplementation on the milk fatty acid composition of dairy cows

  • B.F. McNamee (a1), A.M. Fearon (a2) and J. Pearce (a2)


The experiment was designed to investigate the effect of increasing the concentration of Cu2+ in the diet of the lactating dairy cow with a view to stimulating the activity of the mammary gland △9–desaturase enzyme system to increase the C18:1/18:0 ratio in the milk fat.

In a preliminary study, two lactating dairy cows were provided with ground rapeseed/maizebased concentrates containing either a normal or a high concentration of supplementary Cu2+, the animal offered the normal concentration supplement was also provided with an oral CuSO4 solution drench so that both animals received an equal daily supply of Cu2+. Daily blood samples were collected from the cows and total plasma Cu2+ concentration was determined. A blood plasma lipid analysis was also carried out. In a second study, eight lactating dairy cows were provided with a silage and concentrate diet. The lipid portion of the concentrates was provided by either ground or unground rapeseed while the Cu2+ in the mineral supplement of the unground rapeseed-based concentrate was manipulated to provide one of the following three concentrations of Cu2+ in the concentrate (mg/kg DM); <10, 50 or 100. The subsequent milk fat was analysed for fatty acid composition.

Presentation of an increased concentration of Cu2+ to the cow was more efficiently absorbed when provided in the concentrate mix than when provided as a CuSO4 solution in an oral drench. Increased dietary Cu2+ in the concentrates was successful at increasing the concentration of plasma Cu2+ from a normal concentration of 80–100 mg/cm3 to over 200 mg/cm3. An increased concentration of Cu2+ in the blood of the cows in the first experiment resulted in a significant increase (P<0·05) in the C18:1 content of the plasma lipid, possibly through the increased activity of the intestinal △9–desaturase enzyme system.

The composition of the milk, including the fatty acid composition of the milk fat, from the second experiment was unaffected by the concentration of Cu2+ in the diet of the dairy cows within the concentration range of <10 to 35 mg/kg DM per day.



Hide All
Bickerstaffe, R., Noakes, D.E. and Annison, E.F. 1972. Quantitative aspects of fatty acid biohydrogenation, absorption and transfer into milk fat in the lactating goat, with special reference tothe cis– and trans–isomers of octadecenoate and linoleate. Journal of Biochemistry 130: 607617.
Feeding Stuffs Regulations Northern Ireland. 1995. Statutory rules for Northern Ireland 1995, No. 451, Agriculture. Belfast : HMSO.
Ferguson, W.S. 1943. The teart pastures of Somerset. IV. Effect of continuous administration of copper sulphate to dairy cows. Journal of Agricultural Science 33: 116118.
Johnson, S.B., Kramer, T.R., Briske-Anderson, M. and Holman, R.T. 1989. Fatty acid pattern of tissue phospholipids in copper and iron deficiencies. Lipids 24: 141145.
Kinsella, J.E. 1968. The incorporation of [14C3]glycerol into lipids by dispersed bovine mammary cells. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 164: 540549.
Moore, J.H., Christie, W.W., Braude, R. and Mitchell, K.G. 1969. The effect of dietary copper on the fatty acid composition and physical properties of pig adipose tissues. British Journal of Nutrition 23: 281287.
Stoszek, M.J., Mika, P.G., Oldfield, J.E. and Weswig, P.H. 1986. Influence of copper supplementation on blood and liver copper in cattle fed tall fescue or quackgrass. Journal of Animal Science 62: 263271.
Thompson, E.H., Allen, C.E. and Meade, R.J. 1973. Influence of copper on stearic acid desaturation and fatty acid composition in the pig. Journal of Animal Science 36: 868873.
Wahle, K.W.J. 1974. Desaturation of long-chain fatty acids by tissue preparations of the sheep, rat and chicken. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 48B: 87105.
Wahle, K.W.J. and Davies, N.T. 1974. Effect of dietary copper deficiency on the desaturation of stearic acid by rat liver microsomal fractions. Biochemical Society Transcripts 2: 12831285.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed