Influence of farm type (organic, conventional and intensive) on toxic metal accumulation in calves in NW Spain
¹Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Departamento de Patoloxía Animal, Facultade deVeterinaria, 27002 Lugo, Spain
²Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg,Lancaster LA1 4AP, UK
³Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Ciencias Clínicas Veterinarias, Facultade deVeterinaria, 27002 Lugo, Spaine-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The aim of the present study was to determine how accumulation of toxic metals by beef-cattle in NW Spain varies between farms that have markedly different practices (including intensive, conventional and organic management) and to determine possible key factors affecting toxic metal assimilation by cattle. Soil, feed (forage and concentrate) and animal tissues (liver and kidney from 120 calves) were collected from nine farms across NW Spain and were analysed for metals by ICP-MS. Toxic metal concentrations in beef calves were generally low but did vary significantly between farms. There were no consistent patterns of difference in tissue metal concentrations between farms from different regions or between farms with different management practices. Variations in arsenic, cadmium and mercury concentrations in calf tissues were not significantly explained by soil or diet metal concentrations but were significantly and inversely related to the proportion of concentrate in the ration. Higher levels of metal residues in tissues were associated with consumption of low amounts of concentrate and relatively high levels of grazing. Higher toxic metal intake due to grazing is likely to be largely a result of soil ingestion.