Copper toxicity an issue for lamb producers

Alberta lamb producers are being warned about the 
danger of copper toxicity.
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Alberta Lamb Producers says there have been reports of copper toxicity in market lambs and is urging producers to take care.

The organization says rations for cattle, goats, or horses should never be fed to sheep, and that land fertilized with hog manure can have high levels of copper.

“Since copper is stored in the liver, at times of stress there may be a massive release of copper, which causes the acute disease,” the association said in a recent N’ewesline article.

Clinical signs include animals that are depressed, off feed, weak and may have diarrhea. Many animals are simply found dead. Others may have red urine or show yellowing of the mouth and eyes (jaundice). Blood samples are needed to confirm a diagnosis, and “affected animals should probably be euthanized,” the association says.

Producers are also being urged to save the label and a sample from every feed purchase until lambs go to market.

For more information on sheep and goat management in Alberta, go to

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