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Effects of level and form of dietary zinc on dairy cattle performance and keratin production in the teat canal.

The objective of this study was to establish the effect of level and form of dietary zinc on dairy cow performance and keratin production in the teat canal.

Year of Publication2009

The teat canal in dairy cows is lined with keratin, which is considered to be a natural physical and chemical barrier involved in providing resistance to bacteria gaining entry into the mammary gland. Keratin is partially removed during milking therefore requiring regeneration. It has been estimated that a cow needs to regenerate 1.3 mg per teat between each milking to replace the amount lost (Capuco et al., 1992). Zinc is important in the process of keratinisation and previous studies have reported an 2.4 kg/d increase in milk yield when supplemented with Zn in an organic form at the recommended level and an increase in somatic cell counts (SCC) in cattle receiving 0.66 of the recommended level of dietary Zn (Atkin et al., 2007), although mechanisms for this observation are unclear. The objective of this study was to establish the effect of level and form of Zn (organically chelated (Bioplex ZnTM; Alltech Inc., Nicholasville, USA) vs. inorganic (ZnO)) and no supplemental Zn on dairy cow performance and keratin production in the teat canal.

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Supporting the development of the national rural economy.

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