Cattle Coat Health
What are Dull Coats in Cattle?
Healthy hair is produced by hair follicles that are supplied with adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals. If any of these ingredients for building healthy hair are limited, the hair coat may become dull, off-coloured and brittle.
Unhealthy hair coats are sometimes described as rough or dull and are likely not to shed in a timely manner in the spring. Healthy hair in cattle is not a fashion statement. The same nutritional ingredients that make healthy hair are also responsible for efficient reproduction, immune function, and growth. Hair is an indicator of general health and a predictor of performance.
Symptoms of Dull Coats in Cattle
- Rough Hair
- Dull hair
- The coat does not shed in a timely manner
Causes of Dull Coats in Cattle
Several specific conditions cause rough hair and dull coats. Parasites, both internal and external, rob the body of the nutrients needed to make healthy hair coats. Heavily parasitized animals will have an unthrifty appearance, including discoloured, lifeless hair and will have decreased performance
Another factor that causes rough hair coats and decreased performance in cattle is copper deficiency. Forage surveys have shown that where copper levels are low, and other minerals (especially sulfur), which decrease copper availability, are high it is likely that copper deficiency will result leading to poor hair coats.
Besides depigmentation and impaired keratinization of hair (rough hair coats), signs of copper deficiency are poor growth, low reproduction, and anaemia. Deficient levels of copper also have a detrimental effect on the immune system.
Problems from Dull Coats in Cattle
Dull Coats in Cattle – Treatment
Proper nutritional supplementation is key in ensuring optimal coat health. Copper and other minerals must be supplied in supplemental mineral mixtures. Cattle producers whose cattle have hair coat problems should consider whether they should upgrade their mineral supplement and ensure all animals are getting the right levels of the correct minerals.