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J Anim Sci. 2011 Nov;89(11):3690-8. doi: 10.2527/jas.2010-3724. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Effects of maternal selenium supply and plane of nutrition during gestation on passive transfer of immunity and health in neonatal lambs.

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  • 1Center for Nutrition and Pregnancy, Department of Animal Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo 58108, USA.


To investigate the influence of maternal Se supply and plane of nutrition on lamb morbidity, mortality, and passive transfer of IgG, pregnant ewe lambs were used in 2 experiments with 2 × 3 factorial treatment arrangements. Supplementation of Se began at breeding and was either adequate Se (ASe, 9.5 μg/kg of BW) or high Se (HSe, 81.8 μg/kg of BW) in Exp. 1 or ASe (11.5 µg/kg of BW) or HSe (77.0 µg/kg of BW) in Exp. 2. On d 50 or 40 of gestation for Exp. 1 or 2, respectively, ewes were assigned randomly to 1 of 3 nutritional planes: 60% (RES), 100% (control, CON), or 140% (HI) of NRC requirements. This resulted in the following treatments: ASe-RES, ASe-CON, ASe-HI, HSe-RES, HSe-CON, and HSe-HI. Upon parturition, lambs were separated from their dams and serum samples obtained. Lambs were fed artificial colostrum for the first 20 h and then placed on milk replacer and grain pellets until completion of the study (Exp. 1, 57 d; Exp. 2, 21 d). Twenty-four hours after parturition, lamb serum samples were collected for IgG analysis. All lambs were reared similarly and morbidity and mortality assessed. Main effects were considered significant when P ≤ 0.05. In Exp. 1, there was a Se × plane of nutrition interaction (P ≤ 0.01) for lamb morbidity from birth to weaning and for 24-h IgG concentration. Lambs from ASe-RES and HSe-HI ewes were treated more frequently (P < 0.01) for respiratory and gastrointestinal disease, and lambs from HSe-HI ewes had the smallest (P < 0.01) 24-h serum IgG concentration. In Exp. 1, lambs from HI ewes also had the greatest (P < 0.01) mortality rates from birth to weaning compared with lambs from CON and RES ewes. In Exp. 2, there was an effect (P < 0.01) of maternal plane of nutrition with lambs from RES ewes having increased 24-h IgG compared with lambs from CON and HI ewes. There was no effect of maternal Se supplementation on lamb 24-h IgG in Exp. 2; however, there was a Se × plane of nutrition interaction (P < 0.01) for morbidity. From birth to 21 d of age, lambs from ASe-CON ewes had fewer (P < 0.01) treatment days compared with lambs from any of the other treatment groups. There also tended (P = 0.08) to be an effect of maternal Se supplementation on lamb mortality with increased mortality observed in lambs from HSe ewes. Results from the studies show a restricted maternal plane of nutrition can increase lamb serum IgG concentration. Selenium results were not consistent between the 2 experiments and may be due to differences in maternal Se.

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