The effect of feeding Cu- and Zn-methionine to ewes was studied in a 240d feeding trial. The plasma and tissue Cu and Zn concentrations and Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn-SOD) activity were employed to assess the relative bioavailability from Cu- and Zn-methionine. The macro and micronutrient intake, utilization, plasma mineral status, tissue accumulation of Cu and Zn as well as wool concentration of Cu and Zn were studied in ewes (n=12) fed a corn-soybean meal based basal diet with 50% more Cu and Zn supplementation over the basal diet either from Cu- and Zn-sulfate (Cu-Sulf+Zn-Sulf group) or Cu- and Zn-methionine (Cu-Meth+Zn-Meth group). The average daily feed intake and body weight gain of ewes did not differ due to dietary supplementation of Cu- and Zn-methionine. However, dry matter intake was comparatively lower and thus resulted in better feed: gain in Cu- and Zn-methionine group as compared to ewes fed Cu- and Zn-sulfate. Supplementation of Cu and Zn over the basal diet either from methionine-chelated or sulfate sources resulted in increased plasma Cu and Zn as well as Cu/Zn-SOD activity on d-30, which indicated a positive correlation between plasma Cu and Zn and Cu/Zn-SOD activity. The gut absorption, liver concentrations of Cu and Zn, and liver Cu/Zn-SOD activity were significantly (P<0.01) higher in ewes supplemented with Cu- and Zn-methionine compared to Cu- and Zn-sulfate. Periodical analysis of wool samples indicated no significant difference in Cu and Zn content between Cu-and Zn-methionine and Cu- and Zn-sulfate groups. Feeding of Cu and Zn from methionine-chelated source resulted in reduced (P<0.01) excretion of Cu and Zn in feces indicating their better utilization, and this will have positive implication on environment. The gut absorption values, plasma and liver tissue concentrations of Cu and Zn supported the hypothesis that Cu- and Zn-methionine supplements have better bioavailability compared to Cu- and Zn-sulfate and Cu- and Zn-dependent enzyme (Cu/Zn-SOD) could be used to determine the bioavailability of Cu and Zn.
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