Copper is often added to poultry diets as an antimicrobial agent at doses greatly exceeding the nutritional requirement. Copper is an essential trace element that plays a vital role in the physiology of animals: for foetal growth and early post-natal development, for haemoglobin synthesis, connective tissue maturation especially in the cardiovascular system and in bones, for proper nerve function and bone development, and inflammatory processes.
Effects of copper supplements in Poultry:
- It is involved in different biochemical processes of animal metabolism such as
enzyme-coenzyme catalytic reactions. It is associated with the function of a
number of enzymes such as oxygenases including cytochrome C oxidase, and
copper-zinc superoxide dismutase
- ion transport, for instance with ceruloplasmin (ferroxidase I), a putative copper
transport protein required for the incorporation of iron into transferrin for its
transport in plasma
- Copper deficiency leads to physiological disturbance. Symptoms include depression
of growth, anaemia, bowing of the legs, spontaneous fractures, ataxia of newborns,
cardiac and vascular disorders and depigmentation, decrease in some organs weight, depressed reproductive performance including egg production.
- Copper is absorbed in the upper small intestine. Its absorption as that of all trace
elements is difficult to measure and published results are consequently highly
- Copper absorption is affected by the physiological stage of the animal,
dietary level of copper and interactions phytate, ascorbic acid, fibre, tannin etc. which appear to complex with copper and other trace elements.