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J Anim Sci. 2012 Feb;90(2):577-84. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4076. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

Organic and inorganic selenium: II. Transfer efficiency from ewes to lambs.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331, USA.


Adequate Se transfer from ewes to lambs is important to prevent Se-deficiency diseases. To evaluate how different chemical forms of Se administered at comparative dosages to mature ewes affect Se status of their lambs, 240 ewes were divided into 8 treatment groups (n = 30 each) and drenched weekly (at an amount equal to their summed daily intake) with no-Se (controls); at recommended amounts (4.9 mg of Se/wk) with inorganic Na-selenite, inorganic Na-selenate, or organic Se-yeast; or at supranutritional amounts (14.7 and 24.5 mg of Se/wk) with Na-selenite or Se-yeast for 1 yr. Weekly drenching of Se was effective at increasing (P < 0.002) Se concentrations in ewe colostrum and milk at 30 d of lactation and in improving (P < 0.001) the Se status of lambs (whole-blood and serum-Se concentrations at birth, and skeletal-muscle Se concentrations at 14 d of age). Selenium concentrations in lacteal secretions were greater in ewes drenched with Se-yeast (colostrum: 374, 436, and 982 ng/mL at 4.9, 14.7, and 24.5 mg of Se/wk, respectively; milk: 26, 39, 64 ng/mL) compared with ewes drenched with Na-selenite (colostrum: 204, 334, 428 ng/mL; milk: 16, 21, 24 ng/mL), and were also greater (P < 0.001) in their lambs. Selenium concentrations continued to increase (P < 0.001) in lamb whole blood (558 and 695 ng/mL at 14.7 and 24.5 mg of Se/wk, respectively), serum (126, 183 ng/mL), and skeletal muscle (991, 1,696 ng/mL) with supranutritional concentrations of Se-yeast, whereas Se concentrations did not differ in whole blood (304, 332 ng/mL), serum (77, 85 ng/mL), or skeletal muscle (442, 482 ng/mg) of lambs from ewes drenched with 14.7 or 24.5 mg of Se/wk of Na-selenite. We conclude that weekly oral drenching of ewes during gestation and lactation with organic Se-yeast results in a more efficient transfer of Se (over a wide range of supplementation rates) from ewe to lamb than does inorganic Na-selenite.

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