Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 135–142 | Cite as

Trace Element Concentrations in Beef Cattle Related to the Breed Aptitude

  • Victor PereiraEmail author
  • Paloma Carbajales
  • Marta López-Alonso
  • Marta Miranda


Animal feed has traditionally been supplemented with trace elements at dietary concentrations well above physiological needs. However, environmental concerns have led to calls for better adjustment of mineral supplementation to actual physiological needs and, in this context, consideration of breed-related differences in trace element requirements. The aim of this study was to analyze trace element concentrations in the main breeds used for intensive beef production in northern Spain (Holstein-Friesian [HF], Galician Blonde [GB], and GB × HF cross). Samples of blood, internal organs, and muscle were obtained at slaughter from 10 HF, GB, and GB × HF cross calves in the same feedlot. Overall, trace element concentrations in serum and internal organs were within adequate ranges and did not differ between those of breeds, suggesting that trace mineral supplementation was adequate in all groups. The only exception to this was copper, and hepatic copper concentrations were above adequate levels in all calves. This was particularly evident in the HF calves, and the maximum recommended level for human consumption was exceeded in 90% of these animals. Copper, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc concentrations in muscle were significantly higher in the HF than those in the GB calves, with intermediate values for the crosses. These breed-related differences in trace element concentrations in the muscle may be related to lower muscle mass and/or higher hepatic activity in the HF (dairy) calves than in GB (beef) calves. As meat is an essential source of highly available trace elements in human diets, breed-related differences in trace element concentrations in meat deserve further investigation.


Trace elements Breed Beef cattle Intensive systems Organs 



The authors thank Lucia Casanova Iglesias and staff of RIAIDT for their technical assistance. The English grammar of the text was revised by Christine Francis.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All the experimental work was conducted in accordance with the European and Spanish legislation on the use of animals for research. All animal used was previously approved by the Bioethical Committee of the University of Santiago de Compostela and animals were enrolled with owner consent.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversidade de Santiago de CompostelaLugoSpain
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy, Animal Production and Clinical Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversidade de Santiago de CompostelaLugoSpain

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