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Goat Holiday Goodies
Cobalt Importance Print E-mail
Written by Administrator-GL   
Thursday, 04 January 2007
COBALT (Vitamin B12)
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 
                                          W.J. Miller, University of Georgia (1991)
    Cobalt Requirement and Toxic Levels
    Cobalt Requirement in Total Diet (ppm)
    Toxic Level in Total Diet
    This level is not known so the level used for sheep is presented
    This level is not known so the level used for sheep is presented
                                           Levels recommended based on the latest NRC publication on nutrient requirements
    Cobalt was first shown to be of value to ruminants in 1935. Prior to that time, ruminants could not be successfully produced in many areas of the world because of severe cobalt deficiencies. In these locations, including Florida, cattle were limited to certain areas. Animals in cobalt deficient areas, would respond when transferred to area with adequate cobalt. The discovery of cobalt as the cause of the problems in these areas  was of tremendous value in increasing ruminant productivity throughout the world. Even today, new cobalt deficient areas are being found as livestock production increases in newly developed areas, and as research efforts are increased to determine mineral needs of animals. The University of Florida scientists reported in 1976 that 43% of the 140 forage samples taken throughout Latin America had cobalt levels of 0.1 ppm or less.

    Given the current knowledge, the most convincing evidence of a cobalt deficiency is determined by the response of the animal to cobalt feeding. The response is quick, with appetite increasing in about a week, and weight gains quickly follow. The remission of the anemia, however, occurs more slowly.

    Cobalt has a relatively low order of toxicity in all animals. Cobalt toxicity in ruminants is rare because toxic levels are about 300 times requirement levels. Excesses should be avoided, however.

  • Starvation has been shown to falsely elevate the levels of vitamin B12 in the liver and kidneys.
  • Cobalt has also been shown to be associated with impaired immune function in other species of ruminants, resulting in increased susceptibility to infection and reduced viability of newborn animals (MacPherson et al., 1987;Ferguson et al., 1989; Paterson and MacPherson, 1990; Fisher, 1991; Vellema et al., 1996).
Sheep -Cobalt deficiency causes lack of appetite, lack of thrift, severe emaciation, weakness, anemia, decreased fertility, and decreased milk and wool production (155).  Sheep are more susceptible to cobalt deficiency than cattle and the accumulation of fat in the liver of B12 deficient sheep, but not cattle, may be related to a methyl-group deficiency affecting liver lipid metabolism (252).  Another metabolic anomaly of cobalt deficient lambs is the accumulation of homocysteine in the plasma which leads to an accumulation of oxidation products, depletion of vitamin E, and damage to the mitochondria (249).

Salt Institute ©Copyright 1974, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1993, 1999, 2001
Hepatic Lipidosis Associated with Cobalt De¢ciency in Omani Goats 
E.H. Johnson 1* , D.E. Muirhead 2 , K. Annamalai 1 , G.J. King 3 , R. Al-Busaidy 1 and M. Shahul Hameed 1 1 Sultan Qaboos University, College of Agriculture, Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, POBox 34, Al-Khod 123, Muscat; 2 Department of Pathology, PO Box 33, Al- Khod 123, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman and 3 Diwan of Royal Court *Correspondence
Johnson, E.H., Muirhead, D., Annamalai, K., King, G.J., Al-Busaidy, R. and Shahul Hameed, M., 1999.
Hepatic lipidosis associated with cobalt de¢ciency in Omani goats. Veterinary Research Communications,
23(4), 215^221
Black, H., Hutton, J.B., Sutherland, R.J. and James, M.P., 1988. White liver disease in goats. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 36, 15^17
Ferguson, E.G., Mitchell, G.B. and MacPherson, A., 1989. Cobalt de¢ciency and Ostertagia circumcinta infection in lambs. Veterinary Record, 7, 20
Fisher, G.E., 1991. E¡ect of cobalt de¢ciency in the pregnant ewe on reproductive performance and lamb viability. Research in Veterinary Science, 50, 319^327
Gelman, A.L., 1976. A note on the determination of cobalt in animal liver. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 27, 520
Johnson, E.H., Muirhead, D., King, G.J., Ochei, J. and Al-Busaidy, R., 1999. An abattoir survey of caprine liver diseases in the Sultanate of Oman. Veterinary Journal, in press
Kennedy, D.G., Young, P.B., Blanch£ower, W.J., Scott, J.M., Weir, D.G., Molloy, A.M. and Kennedy, S., 1994. Cobalt-vitamin B12 de¢ciency causes lipid accumulation, lipid peroxidation and decreased alpha- tocopherol concentrations in the liver of sheep. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 64, 270^276
MacPherson, A., Gray, D., Mitchell, G.B. and Taylor, C.N., 1987. Ostertagia infection and neutrophil function in cobalt-de¢cient and cobalt-supplemented cattle. British Veterinary Journal, 143, 348^353 Marston, H.R., Allen, S.H. and Smith, R.H., 1961. Primary metabolic defect supervening on vitamin B12 de¢ciency in sheep. Nature, 190, 1085^1092
McDowell, L.R., 1992. Cobalt. In: L.R. McDowell (ed.), Minerals in Animals and Human Nutrition, (Academic Press, New York), 205^223
Mitchell, P.J., McOrist, S., Thomas, K.W. and McCausland, I.P., 1982. White liver disease of sheep.
Australian Veterinary Journal, 58, 181^184 Paterson, J.E. and MacPherson, A., 1990. The in£uence of a low cobalt intake on the neutrophil function and severity of Ostertagia infection in cattle. British Veterinary Journal, 146, 519^530
Pearson, A.B., 1987. White liver disease and pestivirus infection in goat kids. Surveillance, 14, 21
Pearson, E.G. and Mass, J., 1996. Hepatic lipidosis. In: B.P. Smith (ed.), Large Animal Internal Medicine, (Mosby, St Louis, MO), 937^944
Paterson, J.E. and MacPherson, A., 1990. The in£uence of a low cobalt intake on the neutrophil function
and severity of Ostertagia infection in cattle. British Veterinary Journal, 146, 519^530
Smith, R.M., 1987. Cobalt. In: W. Mertz (ed.), Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition, vol. I, (Academic Press, New York), 143^183
Sutherland, R.J., Cordes, D.O. and Carthew, G.C., 1979. Ovine white liver disease ^ an hepatic dysfunction associated with vitamin B12 de¢ciency. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 27, 227^232
American Symposium on Mineral Nutrition Research with Grazing Ruminants, University of Florida, Gainesville, 163^169
Tokarnia, C.H. and Dobereiner, J., 1978. In: J.H. Conrad and L.R. McDowell (eds), Proceedings Latin
American Symposium on Mineral Nutrition Research with Grazing Ruminants, University of Florida,
Gainesville, 163^169
Ulvund, M.J., 1990. Ovine white-liver disease (OWLD). Trace elements in liver. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 31, 297^307
Vellema, P., Rutten, V.P., Hoek, A., Moll, L. and Wenttink, G.H., 1996. The e¡ect of cobalt supplementation on the immune response in vitamin B12 de¢cient Texel lambs. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 55, 151^161
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 April 2010 )
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