Article Index "Cobalt" Article Index

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By: Salt Institute
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Goats - Cobalt deficiency symptoms include a loss of appetite, emaciation, weakness, anemia, and decreased production. At present there are no definitive reported normal values for the levels of cobalt in the livers of goats. However, the values found in the present study for normal and fatty livers were consistent with those reported for sheep and cows.

The only known animal requirement for cobalt is as a constituent of Vitamin B12, which has 4% cobalt in its chemical structure. This means that a cobalt deficiency is really a vitamin B12 deficiency. Reduced liver stores of cobalt are considered indicative of a dietary cobalt deficiency in ruminants (McDowell, 1992) and its measurement is generally considered sufficiently responsive to changes in cobalt intake to be of diagnostic value in cobalt deficiency (Smith, 1987). Microorganisms in the rumen are able to synthesize vitamin B12 needs of ruminants if the diet is adequate in cobalt.

Normally, cobalt is not stored in the body in significant quantities. The small amount that is stored does not easily pass back into the rumen or intestinal tract where it can be used for vitamin B12 syntheses. Therefore, ruminants must consume cobalt frequently in the diet for adequate B12 synthesis. Injected cobalt is ineffective. The fact that injected cobalt is ineffective agrees with recent research which suggests that cobalt deficiency in the rumen may be more important then a vitamin B12 deficiency at the tissue level.

Liver B12 As Cobalt Status Indicator

B12 in Fresh Liver (ppm) Cobalt Status of Animal
Less than 0.07 Severe cobalt deficiency
0.07 - 0.11 Moderate cobalt deficiency
0.11 - 0.19 Mild cobalt deficiency
0.19 or more Sufficiency

About the author: For further information: Online, the Salt Institute publishes useful articles by animal nutrition professionals and college-level course materials for the study of salt and trace mineral nutrition of livestock and poultry and additional FAQs about salt and trace mineral nutrition. Please contact the Salt Institute, National Research Council Animal Nutrition Committee, American Feed Industry Association, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, Dr. Larry L. Berger. Dr. Berger's assistance in preparing this page is gratefully appreciated. The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine is another good source of information. Salt and other ingredients in animal feed are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Other sites discuss feeding beef cattle, sheep and horses salt and trace minerals. Walton Feed has information about salt on its website.

Agricultural Research Service

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