Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Cobalt and vitamin B12

Synonym(s): Cobalamin, pine, wasting disease

Contributor(s): Nigel Kendall , John Tulloch

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Introduction

  • Cobalt is an essential trace mineral for ruminants:
    • Essential trace elements are required in the diet in tiny amounts, used as catalytic or structural components of larger molecular structures. They are have specific functions and are indispensable for life.
  • Cobalt is utilized by rumen microbes to synthesise vitamin B12/cobalamin. It is also required for the production of propionate by rumen microbes. 
  • Cobalamin is required by the ruminant for certain enzymes to function, namely:
    • Methylmalonyl–CoA mutase – propionate metabolism (entry to TriCarboxylic Acid (TCA) or Krebs cycle).
    • Methionine synthase - methylation and 1 carbon metabolism. 
  • Deficiency of cobalt in ruminating animals will lead to reduced vitamin B12 production and deficiency conditions such as ‘pine’ and ‘wasting disease’.

Cobalt is needed by the rumen, not the ruminant

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Cobalt requirements

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Cobalt deficiency

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Diagnosis of cobalt deficiency

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Cobalt analysis

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Cobalt supplementation

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Cobalt toxicity

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Williams J R, Williams N E & Kendall N R (2017) The efficacy of supplying supplemental cobalt, selenium and vitamin B12 via the oral drench route in sheep. Livestock Science 200. pp. 80-84. 
  • Bone P A & Kendall N R (2011) How to determine on farm forage mineral problems. Cattle Practice 19, 133-136
  • Kendall et al. The efficacy of supplying supplemental cobalt, selenium and vitamin B12 via the oral drench route in sheep. Livestock Science.

Other sources of information

  • Kendall N R (2014) Understanding and advising on the need for mineral supplements in livestock. Animal Health Advisor.
  • Kendall N R & Bone P A (2014) Sheep mineral supplements: what do they do and when should they be used? Animal Health Advisor.
  • Kendall N R (2008) Choosing right strategy for large animal mineral supplementation, Veterinary Times.
  • NRC (2005) Mineral tolerance of Animals.
  • NRC (2001) Nutrient requirements of Dairy Cattle.
  • NRC (2000) Nutrient requirements of Beef Cattle.
  • Underwood and Suttle (1999) The mineral nutrition of livestock.


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