Selenium is a trace mineral that is a necessary component for multiple antioxidants and normal immune function. Without selenium, antioxidants function poorly, thus leading to cellular damage throughout the body. Rapidly-growing cells, such as muscle and immune system cells, are most commonly affected. Soil, and thus feed, is the most common source of naturally-occurring selenium. However, the soil in the upper Midwest is notably selenium-deficient, thus requiring selenium supplementation.
Additional selenium can be added directly to the feed, or given parenterally with injectable products such as BoSe, MuSe, or Multimin. However, it is important not to give too much selenium, as toxicity can also result. It is imperative that you consult your nutritionist and veterinarian before changing your current selenium supplementation.
In calves, selenium deficiency causes “white muscle disease,” which is commonly seen as weak calves (sometimes with stiff muscles) that have difficulty standing due to muscle damage throughout the body. Respiratory and heart muscles can also be affected, which can lead to breathing difficulties or sudden death. At necropsy, the muscles throughout the body will be pale, thus leading to the term “white muscle disease.” Since selenium is needed for normal immunity, poor immune function can also be an indicator of less-severe selenium deficiency.
In adult cows, the most common signs of selenium deficiency are an increased rate of retained placentas, increased somatic cell count, mastitis, and poor reproduction. Measuring blood and/or liver selenium is a good way to evaluate selenium status.
Click here to view all of ANIMART’s Selenium Supplements.
Dr. Vicky Lauer
ANIMART Professional Services Veterinarian