In a 195 day trial, 5 adult camels and 5 adult cows fed a similar basal diet plus mineral supplement (copper, zinc, selenium and manganese) for 3 months (days 22-112). Copper and zinc were analyzed in the plasma, liver, urine, feces and basal diet. Iron and manganese were measured in the diet and feces only. The caeruplasmin and the erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activity were measured. The urinary excretion was negligible in both species. Camels plasma concentration of copper and zinc were (61 µg/100 ml and 38 µg/100 ml for respectively) significantly lower than that in the cows (111 and 83 respectively). The supplementation increased the plasma copper concentration and liver copper level but had no effect on plasma and liver zinc concentrations in the camels. There was a significant correlation between plasma copper and caeruloplasmin activity. However, there was no significant correlation between the plasma copper and zinc concentrations and the erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activity. Fecal excretion of all trace elements increased during supplementation period, while the apparent absorption rate decreased for iron in spite of lack of mineral supplementation. Zinc absorption stayed at lower level in camel after stopping mineral supply. Manganese apparent absorption rate was very high in camel. Results were discussed with the hypothesis of an adaptive physiology for the camels in transitory mineral undernutrition.
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