Copper is a key element in many metabolic processes within the body and is often overlooked. It plays an important role in energy metabolism, bone formation, soft tissue elasticity, uptake and storage of other minerals, and coat, hoof and skin condition and pigmentation.
Key signs of a possible deficiency include: a dry dull poor coat, poor hair condition, uneven hair growth/shedding, long stringy/fuzzy hairs, a dry and dull coat when clipped out, and poor hoof quality. Classic signs of a deficiency would be an orange coppery tinge to a normally dark coat, or loss of pigmentation or mottling (white/pink spots) around the muzzle and/or eyes.
Poor coat is the least of your worries if the horse is actually suffering a deficiency, other factors that are seriously affected if there is a copper deficiency include bone strength and rigidity, tendon and ligament elasticity, red blood cell formation, energy metabolism, etc, so it is imperative to always be aware of a deficiency and supplement if at all in doubt.
It is usually recommended that horses are supplemented 3-4 times per year to boost stores, but this will depend on how quickly stores are depleted. Workload, stress, growth spurts, forage quality, additional supplementation of other minerals that may interfere with copper uptake eg zinc, iron, all of these will interfere with how quickly a horse uses up copper stores. Supplementation will also depend on requirements, there is naturally a higher demand for copper during periods of high stress, illness, increased workload, change in workload, travel, etc.
Copper plays an important role in the uptake and utilization of iron, so a deficiency in copper can easily present as a deficiency in iron, when in fact there is plenty of iron available. If at all worried about iron uptake or red blood cell production, always supplement with copper first. Care must always be taken with supplementing with iron as toxicity can easily occur. Horses have a high tolerance for copper, so supplementation can easily take place without too much worry of toxicity.
Foran Equine offers two premium Copper Supplements:
Foran Equine’s Coppervit is a chelated Copper supplement in liquid form. It is fortified with Vitamin E a key antioxidant, Manganese for healthy joints, Biotin for healthy hoof horn growth and Vitamin B12 to promote red blood cell formation. Suitable for all horses particularly Breeding Stock, Horses in Training or Competition, Show Horses and Sales Prep.
Foran Equine’s Copper-Max Paste is a chelated Copper and Zinc supplement in a convenient syringe form. This makes it ideal for administrating to horses kept at pasture.
If you would like to know more about supplementing your horse with copper please contact our local expert Nia O’Malley on +353 87990265.