Cobalt (B12)

Cobalt (B12)

Species: Cattle, sheep, goats, deer, alpaca

Specimens: Serum or liver

Optimum number of animals to test for mob/herd/flock deficiency: 10 (serum) and 5 (liver).

General information about the test: 

Cobalt is measured indirectly in animals by measuring vitamin B12 a cobalt containing vitamin. Order of susceptibility to cobalt deficiency (high to low) is lambs>adult sheep>calves> kids >fawns>adult goats> cattle>deer.

Serum B12 concentrations can be elevated in lambs by > 6 hours of yarding or a concurrent liver disease (eg. facial eczema).  In cattle vitamin B12 analogues produced by some diets can produce sometimes markedly variable and higher than expected results in a group of cows grazing together.  This does not appear to occur in sheep.

The liver is the storage organ for vitamin B12.

Reference interval (serum B12):

  • Cattle – Adequate  > 150 pmol/L
  • Sheep – Adequate  > 500 pmol/L
  • Alpaca – Adequate  > 70  pmol/L
  • There are no reference ranges available for deer or goats.

Reference interval (liver B12):

  • Cattle – Adequate > 220 pmol/kg
  • Sheep – Adequate  > 375 pmol/kg
  • There are no reference ranges for deer, alpaca or goats.