The Effects of Copper Source and Concentration on Lipid Metabolism in Growing and Finishing Angus Steers

  • Johnson, L.R. (Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University) ;
  • Engle, T.E. (Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University)
  • Received : 2002.07.23
  • Accepted : 2003.04.04
  • Published : 2003.08.01


Forty-eight individually fed Angus steers (body weight $220kg{\pm}9.1$) were utilized to investigate the effects of copper (Cu) source and concentration on lipid metabolism and carcass quality. Steers were stratified by body weight and initial liver Cu concentration and randomly assigned to one of five groups. Groups were then randomly assigned to treatments. Treatments consisted of: 1) control (no supplemental Cu); 2) 10 mg Cu/kg DM from $CuSO_4$; 3) 10 mg Cu/kg DM from a Cu amino acid complex (Availa Cu) 4) 20 mg Cu/kg DM from $CuSO_4$; and 5) 20 mg Cu/kg DM from Availa Cu. Steers were fed a corn-alfalfa-based growing diet for 56 d. Steers were then switched to a high concentrate finishing diet for 145 d. On day 74 of the finishing phase subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies were obtained from three steers/treatment to determine basal and stimulated lipolytic rates in vitro. Steers were then slaughtered after receiving the finishing diet for 145 d. Control steers tended (p<0.12) to have lower ceruloplasmin (Cp) activity than Cu supplemented steers. Steers receiving 20 mg Cu/kg DM from Availa Cu had higher (p<0.03) Cp activity than steers receiving 20 mg Cu/kg DM from $CuSO_4$. Plasma non-esterified fatty acids were similar across treatments. Steers receiving 10 mg Cu/kg DM from Availa Cu had higher (p<0.02) total plasma cholesterol concentrations relative to steers receiving 10 mg Cu/kg DM from $CuSO_4$. Steers receiving 20 mg Cu/kg DM from Availa Cu had lower (p<0.03) plasma triglyceride concentrations than steers supplemented with 20 mg Cu/kg DM from $CuSO_4$. Fatty acid profile of longissimus muscle was similar across treatments. Backfat depth tended (p<0.18) to be lower in Cu supplemented steers relative to controls. Steers supplemented with 20 mg Cu/kg DM from Availa Cu had heavier (p<0.03) hot carcass weights and a greater (p<0.02) dressing percentage than steers supplemented with 20 mg Cu/kg DM from $CuSO_4$. Furthermore, in vitro basal (p<0.06) and epinephrine stimulated (p<0.04) lipolytic rates of subcutaneous adipose tissue were higher in Cu supplemented steers relative to controls. The results of this study suggest that Cu supplementation has minimal effects on blood and lean tissue lipid profile. However, it appears that Cu may play a role in lipid metabolism in subcutaneous adipose tissue.


  1. Davis, K. G. and W. Mertz. 1987. Copper. In: (Ed. W. Mertz) Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition (5th). pp 301-364. Academic Press, New Yourk.
  2. Dorton, K. L., T. E. Engle, D. W. Hamar, P. D. Siciliano and R. S. Yemm. 2002. Effects of copper source and concentration on performance, copper status, and immune function in growing and finishing steers. Proc. Western Sec., Amer. Soc. Anim. Sci. 53:515-518.
  3. Engle, T. E. and J. W. Spears. 2000a Effects of dietary copper concentration and source on performance and copper status of growing and finishing steers. J. Anim. Sci. 78:2446-2451.
  4. Kramer, K. G., V. Fellner, M. R. Dugan, F. D. Sauer, M. M. Mossob and M. P. Yurawecz. 1997. Evaluating acid and base catalysts in the methylation of milk and rumen fatty acids with special emphasis on conjugated dienes and total trans fatty acids. Lipids 32:1219-1228.
  5. Pothoven, M. A., D. C. Beitz, and J. H. Thornton. 1975. Lipogenesis and lipolysis in adipose tissue of ad libitum and restricted-fed beef cattle during growth. J. Anim. Sci. 40:957-962.
  6. Sigma Chemical Co. 1990. The quantitative, enzymatic determination of triglycerides in serum or plasma at 500 nm. Procedure No. 336 (Rev. Ed.). St. Louis, MO.
  7. Bakalli, R.I., G. M. Pesti, W. L. Ragland and V. H. Konjufca. 1995. Dietary copper in excess of nutritional requirement reduces plasma and breast muscle cholesterol of chickens. Poult. Sci. 74:360-365.
  8. Houchin, O. B. 1958. A rapid colormetric method for the quantitative determination of copper oxidase activity (ceruloplasmin). Clin. Chem. 4:519.
  9. Laurell, S. and G. Tibbling. 1966. An enzymatic fluorometric micromethod for the determination of glycerol. Clin. Chim. Acta. 13:317.
  10. Martin, G. S., D. K. Lunt, K. G. Britain, and S. B. Smith. 1999. Postnatal development of steroyl coenzyme A desaturase gene expression and adiposity in bovine subcutaneous adipose tissue. J. Anim. Sci. 77:630-636.
  11. Engle, T. E., J. W. Spears, L. Xi and F. W. Edens. 2000b. Dietary copper effects on lipid metabolism and circulating catecholamine concentrations in finishing steers. J. Anim. Sci. 78:2737-2744.
  12. Mobi, J. A., E. D. Ekpe and R. J. Christopherson. 2000. Acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthase activity and immunodetectable protein in adipose tissues of ruminants: Effect of temperature and feeding level. J. Anim. Sci. 78:2383-2392.
  13. Noble , R. C., J. H. Moore and C. G. Harfoot. 1973. Observations on the pattern of biohydrogenation of esterified and unesterified linoleic acid in the rumen. Br. J. Nutr. 31:99-108.
  14. Ward, J. D. and J. W. Spears. 1997. Long-term effects of consumption of low-copper diets with or without supplemental molybdenum on copper status, performance, and carcass characteristics of cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 75:3057-3065.
  15. Engle, T. E., C. F. Nockels, K. L. Hossner, C. V. Kimberling, R. E. Toombs, R. S. Yemm, D. L. Weaber and A. B. Johnson. 1997. Marginal zinc deficiency affects biochemical and physiological parameters in beef calves. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 10:471-477.
  16. Bligh, E. G. and W. J. Dyer. 1959. A rapid method of total lipid extraction a purification. Can. J. Biochem. Physiol. 37:911-917.
  17. Jenkins, K. J. and J. K. G. Kramer. 1989. Influence of excess dietary copper on lipid composition of calf tissues. J. Dairy Sci. 72:2582-2591.
  18. Prohaska, J. R., W. R. Bailey, A. M. Gross and J. J. Korte. 1990. Effect of dietary copper deficiency on the distribution of dopamine and norepinephrine in mice and rats. J. Nut. Biochem. 1:149-154.
  19. Engle, T. E., J. W. Spears, V. Fellner and J. Odle. 2000c. Effects of soybean oil and dietary copper on ruminal and tissue lipid metabolism in finishing steers. J. Anim. Sci. 78:2713-2721.
  20. Sigma Chemical Co. 2000. Infinity cholesterol reagent for quantitative diagnostic determination of cholesterol in serum or plasma. Procedure No. 401. St. Louis, MO.
  21. Amer, A. M. and J. I. Elliot. 1973. Effects of level of copper supplement and removal of supplemental copper from the diet on the physical and chemical characteristics of porcine depot fat. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 53:139-145.
  22. Engle, T. E. and J. W. Spears. 2000b. Dietary copper effects on lipid metabolism, performance, and ruminal fermentation in finishing steers. J. Anim. Sci. 78:2452-2458.
  23. NRC. 1996. Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle. 7th rev. ed. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
  24. Engle, T. E., J. W. Spears, T. A. Armstrong, C. L. Wright and J. Odle. 2000a. Effects of dietary copper source and concentration on carcass characteristics an lipid and cholesterol metabolism in growing and finishing steers. J. Anim. Sci. 78:1053-1059.
  25. Whitney, M. B., B. W. Hess, L. A. Burgwald-Balstad, J. L. Sayer, C. M. Tsopito, C. T. Talbott and D. M. Hallford. 2000. Effects of supplemental soybean oil level on in vitro digestion and performance of prepubertal beef heifers. J. Anim. Sci. 78:504-514.
  26. Sinnett-Smith, P. A. and J. A. Woolliams. 1987. Adipose tissue metabolism and cell size: variation between subcutaneous sites and the effect of copper supplementation. Anim. Prod. 45:75-80.
  27. Pesti, M. G. and R. I. Bakalli. 1996. Studies on the feeding of cupric sulfate pentahydrate and cupric citrate to broiler chickens. Poult. Sci. 75:1986-1091.
  28. Prohaska, J. R. and W. W. Wells. 1974. Copper deficiency in developing rat brain: A possible model for Menkes' steely-hair disease. J. Neurochem. 23:91-98.
  29. Murray, R. K., D. K. Granner, P. A. Mayes and V. W. Rodwell. 2000. Harper's Biochemistry. 25th edition: 589-590.
  30. O'Dell, B. L., R. M. Smith and R. A. King. 1976. Effects of copper status on brain neurotransmitter metabolism in the lamb. J. Neurochem. 26:451-455.
  31. Wako Chemicals. 1995. Enzymatic colormetric method for the quantitation of non-esterified fatty acids inn serum. Procedure No. 994-75409E. Nissanstr, Germany.

Cited by

  1. Effects of supplementation with two sources and two levels of copper on meat lipid oxidation, meat colour and superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase enzyme activities in Nellore beef cattle vol.112, pp.08, 2014,
  2. Influence of feeding various quantities of wet and dry distillers grains to finishing steers on carcass characteristics, meat quality, retail-case life of ground beef, and fatty acid profile of longissimus muscle1 vol.88, pp.10, 2010,
  3. Copper and lipid metabolism in beef cattle: A review1,2 vol.89, pp.2, 2011,
  4. Effects of feeding diets rich in α-linolenic acid and copper on performance, carcass characteristics, and fatty acid profiles of feedlot heifers1 vol.92, pp.12, 2014,
  5. Meat quality of farmed red deer fed a balanced diet: effects of supplementation with copper bolus on different muscles pp.1751-732X, 2018,