This is a condition that can be caused by a number of circumstances. For instance, high levels of copper interfere with zinc uptake. The same goes for high calcium levels in the blood. Another factor could be failure to absorb zinc from the gut. In most cases males have a higher zinc requirements.Zinc deficiency is known to severely impair immune function in animals. A genetic disorder of zinc metabolism can result in severe zinc deficiency due to impaired ability to absorb zinc. Calves with this disorder show suppressed cell-mediated immune response. Severe zinc deficiency is rare, but has been observed in ruminants grazing forages.



  • Hair loss.
  • Skin lesions that are most severe on the legs, neck, head and around the nostrils
  • Thickened skin especially on the limbs.
  • Excessive salivation,
  • Swollen feet with open, scaly lesions.
  • Skin on the scrotum, neck and head is wrinkled.
  • Impaired reproduction: – A deficiency of zinc in males reduces testicular development and sperm production. In females, cycling and conception rate are decreased hence low fertility and low conception rates.

Diagnosis/ Recognition

  • Abnormal skin changes.
  • Determination of plasma levels- liase with the district veterinary officer to collect sodium citrate blood for laboratory determination.


  • 1% zinc sulphate drench.
  • Zinc sulphate tablets, 250mg to 1g daily orally for 2-4 weeks.
  • Treatment of skin with baby oils, olive oils, thinned with surgical spirit. This allows hair to grow back.
  • Shampooing to remove these oils should also be done.
  • Zinc supplementation can increase reproductive performance by increasing conception rate. There is also an improvement in hoof hardness and less white line disease.