Copper and zinc balance in exercising horses fed 2 forms of mineral supplements. Academic Article uri icon


  • Studies comparing the absorption and retention of various forms of trace minerals in horses have yielded mixed results. The objective of this study was to compare Cu and Zn absorption and retention in exercising horses where the mineral was supplemented in the sulfate or organic chelate form. Nine mature horses were used in a modified switchback design experiment consisting of seven 28-d periods. Horses were fed a diet consisting of 50% concentrate and 50% hay that was balanced to meet the energy, protein, Ca, and P requirements for horses performing moderate-intensity exercise. Horses were subjected to a controlled mineral repletion-depletion diet sequence before feeding the experimental diet to standardize mineral status across horses. The experimental diet was designed to provide 90% of the 1989 NRC for Cu and Zn, with supplemental mineral provided in the inorganic sulfate form (CuSO(4) and ZnSO(4)) or the organic chelate form (Cu-Lys and Zn-Met). Feed, fecal, urine, and water samples collected during a total collection during the last 4 d of the experimental diet periods were analyzed to determine apparent absorption and retention of Cu and Zn from the 2 mineral forms. A formulation error caused horses receiving the organic chelate diet to consume about 3 times the amount of Cu and Zn compared with those fed the sulfate-supplemented diet. Copper and Zn intake and fecal excretion were greater (P < 0.05) for horses consuming the organic chelate-supplemented diet. Apparent absorption values for all horses were negative. Apparent Cu absorption and retention as a percentage of intake were greater for horses fed the organic chelate diet (P < 0.05). It is unknown why excretion of Cu and Zn by the horses during the total collection exceeded the mineral intake. Although Cu-Lys seemed to be better absorbed than CuSO(4) and absorption of Zn-Met and ZnSO(4) were not different, these results are tempered by the observation of abnormally high fecal and urinary excretion values for Cu and Zn in the present study.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Wagner, E. L., Potter, G. D., Gibbs, P. G., Eller, E. M., Scott, B. D., Vogelsang, M. M., & Walzem, R. L.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Wagner, EL||Potter, GD||Gibbs, PG||Eller, EM||Scott, BD||Vogelsang, MM||Walzem, RL

publication date

  • March 2011