Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Iron: overview

Contributor(s): Alistair Macrae , Julia Moorhouse

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Introduction

  • Iron is required for a wide variety of metabolic processes in the body including:
    • The formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin, involved in oxygen transport around the body (as oxyhemoglobin), and the removal of carbon dioxide (as carboxyhemoglobin).
    • Iron-containing enzymes involved in many biochemical processes.
    • Iron-containing proteins such as lactoferrin, which is involved in immune function within the udder.
  • Although the iron content of feeds can be very variable, most feedstuffs used for the feeding of livestock contain large amounts of iron. Green forages tend to be high in iron, and soil contamination (common in wet pastures) will also increase iron intakes.
  • Milk is the main exception, and contains relatively little iron. Thus iron deficiencies are usually only seen in suckling calves, either accidentally in late weaning systems (for example organic farms) or deliberately (veal calf systems).

Metabolism

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Signs of deficiency

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Supplementation

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

Other sources of information

  • DEFRA (2003) Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Cattle. PB 7949
  • Suttle N (2010) Chapter 13. Iron. In: Mineral Nutrition of Livestock. 4th edn. CABI, Wallingford, Oxford. pp 334-354.


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