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INDUSTRY INVESTIGATES EXTENT OF COPPER TOXICITY PROBLEMS
23 Jun 1998
by RAY FORD
From The Ontario Farmer

Amid concerns copper toxicity could become a larger problem for sheep producers, the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency is co-ordinating a research effort to find out the magnitude of the threat. Ian Alton, OSMA director and chairman of a special committee to investigate copper toxicity was quoted as saying, "This is an issue we've had in the industry for quite a few years, and we've decided to take some
action." The story says that the research project, assembled in the wake of a poisoning episode that devastated an eastern Ontario flock, will begin with a survey to determine the extent of copper toxicity in Ontario's sheep, and includes efforts to better educate farmers and feed dealers
about the problem.
Although copper is a necessary element for healthy sheep, too much of it can kill an animal or cause permanent liver damage. Sheep have a lower tolerance for excessive copper than other types of livestock, so hitting the right balance of copper is a particular concern for shepherds. The Ontario Veterinary College's Dr. Paula Menzies was cited as saying that with larger and more intensive hog farms spreading more manure in southern Ontario, the possibility for copper contamination could be
increasing.
As part of the effort to determine the threat posed by copper, Menzies is co-ordinating a study of livers from lambs and cull ewes taken from abattoirs across Ontario.
 


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