The effects of low-copper diets with or without supplemental molybdenum on specific immune responses of stressed cattle

Author: Written by Ward, J. D. and J. W. Spears

Journal: J Anim Sci 1999 77: 230-237.

Abstract: Angus bull calves (n = 42; 7 mo of age; 254 kg initial BW) were used to investigate the effects of dietary Cu and Mo on immune function of stressed cattle. Randomly selected calves (n = 22) were injected with 90 mg of Cu as Cu glycinate 28 d before weaning and castrated at weaning. These calves received 7.5 and 5 mg of supplemental Cu/kg of DM during a 41-d receiving phase and a 196-d growing phase, respectively. The remainder of the steers received no supplemental Cu during the experiment. Copper-supplemented steers had adequate Cu status at weaning, whereas unsupplemented calves were marginally Cu-deficient. Cell-mediated response to intradermal injection of phytohemagglutinin was not affected by dietary treatment during the receiving phase. During the growing phase, half of the steers in each Cu treatment were given 5 mg of supplemental Mo/kg of DM. Copper supplementation increased (P<.05) humoral response to ovalbumin injected on d 133 of the growing phase. On d 168 of the growing phase, calves receiving only supplemental Mo were severely Cu-deficient based on plasma and liver Cu concentrations. The other treatment groups had adequate Cu status. Before feeding on d 168 of the growing phase, half of the steers were loaded onto trailers and transported 2.5 h, and they remained on the trailers an additional 9.5 h. Humoral response to porcine erythrocytes (PRBC) and delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) to dinitrochlorobenzene was tested at the end of the stress period. There was a Cu x stress interaction for humoral response to PRBC, with Cu decreasing antibody titers in unstressed calves and increasing titers in stressed steers. Stressed steers had lower (P = .03) ADG during the 28 d following stress. The results of this study indicate that Cu deficiency and 5 mg of supplemental Mo/kg of DM do not dramatically alter the specific immunity of stressed cattle.