In the images above, the top image is a control lamb compared to the lamb below it that has potassium deficiency. Potassium deficiencies are more common in ruminants than monogastrics because of their higher requirement for this mineral.  The increased use of urea as a nitrogen source instead of proteinaceous feedstuffs has also increased the incidence of deficiency because, unlike the other feedstuffs, urea contains no minerals, including potassium. Different types of stress have resulted in potassium deficiencies including, shipping stress, and during heat stress, which increases the loss of potassium in skin secretions while decreasing feed intake.   Ruminants with potassium deficiency display nonspecific signs such as slow growth, reduced feed and water intake, lower feed efficiency, muscular weakness, nervous disorders, stiffness, decreased pliability of hide, emaciation, intracellular acidosis, and degeneration of vital organs. A potassium deficiency is rarely seen today because most feedstuffs contain adequate or even excess potassium. Only under experimental conditions where potassium is reasonably low have deficiency signs been noted.

Potassium deficiency in sheep

Credit: R. L. Preston, University of Missouri

Digital Credit: Melissa Foster

Publisher: American Institute of Nutrition

Rights: Image Gallery user terms

Description: In the images above, the top image is a control lamb compared to the lamb below it that has potassium deficiency. Potassium deficiencies are more common in ruminants than monogastrics because of their higher requirement for this mineral. The increased use of urea as a nitrogen source instead of proteinaceous feedstuffs has also increased the incidence of deficiency because, unlike the other feedstuffs, urea contains no minerals, including potassium. Different types of stress have resulted in potassium deficiencies including, shipping stress, and during heat stress, which increases the loss of potassium in skin secretions while decreasing feed intake. Ruminants with potassium deficiency display nonspecific signs such as slow growth, reduced feed and water intake, lower feed efficiency, muscular weakness, nervous disorders, stiffness, decreased pliability of hide, emaciation, intracellular acidosis, and degeneration of vital organs. A potassium deficiency is rarely seen today because most feedstuffs contain adequate or even excess potassium. Only under experimental conditions where potassium is reasonably low have deficiency signs been noted.

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