Thursday, January 20, 2011

New selenium supplement discovered

Joshua "Bret" Taylor, an ARS research scientist at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, teamed up with researchers at North Dakota State University to discover a new natural selenium supplement for sheep that's longer lasting and more cost-effective than inorganic forms of selenium.

The researchers isolated a portion of wheat grain found during milling to produce flour.  The organic, selenium-rich co-product, a form of selenomethionine, was fed to sheep during their last 40 to 50 days of gestation and first 18 days of lactation.  The pregnant sheep passed the supplemental selenium to their fetuses, and the lactating ewes delivered it to their offspring through their milk.

As a result, Taylor reports, the long-term selenium status of both groups was boosted for an entire year-six to 10 times longer than that the impact seen in animals that received inorganic sodium selenite, a mineral that's the most common form of selenium supplement. The sheep that received the natural selenium supplement didn't need any additional selenium supplements until they returned for lambing the following year.

The supplement was found in wheat grain.

Selenium is essential for normal growth in the development of sheep and other animals. Therefore, it is a common supplement in their diets. In sheep, selenium is necessary for reproduction. Selenium deficiency reduces conception rates and increases neonatal mortality, and lambs that do survive suffer from increased disease, reduced weight gain, impaired performance and greater mortality.

Inorganic sodium selenite is inexpensive, but it doesn't last long, according to Taylor. It absorbs readily in the body, but must be provided frequently to animals living in selenium-deficient regions.

Source:  USDA ARS News and Events, 12.22.10

1 comment:

here said...

What's also interesting is that Finland for example, put a lot of selenium salts in chemical fertilizers just to get the selenium in soils levels up.