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By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 8, 2013
A great deal of attention has been given to the requirements of broodmares and young horses for copper and zinc. The role of copper in the copper-dependent enzyme lysyl oxidase and that enzyme’s role in the formation and maturation of cartilage has obviously stimulated interest in copper as it relates to developmental orthopedic disease in young horses. Additionally, zinc has long been known to play a role in the maintenance of epithelial integrity and keratogenesis. The use of copper and zinc supplementation in modern horse feeds for all classes of horses stems from the possible role of these two nutrients in reducing physitis, osteochondrosis, wobbler syndrome, and other manifestations of developmental orthopedic disease.
It is interesting to note that in addition to its role in cartilage and bone metabolism, copper is involved in hemoglobin formation and in nerve conductivity and coordination. Copper is also involved in other enzymes such as tyrosinase and cytochrome oxidase to name but a few of the more well known of the enzymes containing a copper moiety or which need copper as a co-factor. There is a small loss of copper in the sweat of horses that may result in sweat losses of 80-100 mg of copper per day...
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