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Lithium salts as a marker of intake of supplements by cattle

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Dixon, R.M., Smith, D.R. and Reid, A. (2003) Lithium salts as a marker of intake of supplements by cattle. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 43 (1). pp. 37-46.


Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA01155

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au


In a series of experiments the appearance of lithium cation in plasma following ingestion or intravenous administration of lithium salts was measured in order to examine the suitability of lithium as a marker of supplement intake by cattle.

In experiment 1, cattle were offered low quality hay ad libitum and 0.15, 0.4, 1.0 and 3.0 kg cottonseed meal (CSM) supplement per day. Following ingestion of lithium-labelled CSM, the lithium concentration in plasma reached a maximum after about 24 h and the subsequent decrease in concentration appeared to follow a single exponential relationship. The rate constant of this disappearance of lithium from plasma was greater (P<0.05) when 3.0 kg than when lesser amounts of lithium-labelled CSM were consumed. Plasma lithium concentrations 24 and 32 h after ingestion of lithium-labelled CSM were both linearly related to the amount of supplement consumed (r = 0.86 and 0.87, respectively, n = 32, P<0.001), indicating that the plasma lithium concentrations could be used to measure intakes of supplement by individual animals.

In experiment 2, following intravenous administration of lithium chloride the disappearance of lithium from plasma over 96 h appeared to be best described by 3 exponential compartments. In experiment 3, cattle were offered molasses-based or loose mineral mix (LMM) supplement, or water, labelled with lithium and the rate constant of disappearance of lithium from plasma between 32 and 96 h was determined. The pattern of the decrease in plasma lithium concentration was similar to that observed in experiment 1.

In experiment 4, the variation about the estimates of supplement intake was measured in heifers (n = 24) offered hay and water ad libitum and in addition a meal of 60 g of lithium-labelled molasses–urea supplement; between 20 and 28 h after ingestion of the lithium-labelled supplement the coefficient of variation (CV) among animals in plasma lithium concentration was about 15%.

The likely errors associated with the use of lithium salts to measure intake of supplement are discussed. These experiments confirm that lithium salts can be used as a marker to estimate intake of supplement by individual animals.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Reproduced with permission from © CSIRO Publishing. Access to published version may be available via Publisher’s website.
Keywords:Lithium salts; Cattle; Supplements.
Subjects:Animal culture > Feeds and feeding. Animal nutrition
Animal culture > Cattle
Live Archive:23 Jan 2004
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:47

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