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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Efficacy of selenium supplementation methods in California yearling beef cattle and resulting effect on weight gain


Selenium (Se) deficiency occurs commonly in California grazing cattle and has been associated with reduced immune function and, in some studies, reduced weight gain. Multiple methods of supplementing Se are available, but little research has compared the effects of these methods on whole blood Se levels and weight gain. In two trials, we evaluated four methods of Se supplementation — an intrarumenal bolus, two injectable preparations and a loose salt containing 120 ppm Se — over an 85- to 90-day period in Se-deficient yearling cattle in Tehama County. The bolus treatment raised whole blood Se levels to an adequate level (0.08 ppm) for the entire study period. Whole blood Se concentrations in injected cattle initially reached adequate levels but then declined to deficient levels. The loose salt treatment acted slowly, with average whole blood Se concentration reaching adequate levels at the end of the study period. None of the treatments significantly affected weight gain and Se blood concentration was not correlated with weight gain. In growing cattle, it appears that Se supplementation may be viewed not as a direct driver of weight gain, but rather as similar to vaccination, in that it can prevent health problems that might otherwise lead to reduced weight gain.

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