TitleEffect of feeding selenium-fertilized alfalfa hay on performance of weaned beef calves.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHall, JA, Bobe, G, Hunter, JK, Vorachek, WR, Stewart, WC, Vanegas, JA, Estill, CT, Mosher, WD, Pirelli, GJ
JournalPloS one
Date Published2013

Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient in cattle, and Se-deficiency can affect morbidity and mortality. Calves may have greater Se requirements during periods of stress, such as during the transitional period between weaning and movement to a feedlot. Previously, we showed that feeding Se-fertilized forage increases whole-blood (WB) Se concentrations in mature beef cows. Our current objective was to test whether feeding Se-fertilized forage increases WB-Se concentrations and performance in weaned beef calves. Recently weaned beef calves (n = 60) were blocked by body weight, randomly assigned to 4 groups, and fed an alfalfa hay based diet for 7 wk, which was harvested from fields fertilized with sodium-selenate at a rate of 0, 22.5, 45.0, or 89.9 g Se/ha. Blood samples were collected weekly and analyzed for WB-Se concentrations. Body weight and health status of calves were monitored during the 7-wk feeding trial. Increasing application rates of Se fertilizer resulted in increased alfalfa hay Se content for that cutting of alfalfa (0.07, 0.95, 1.55, 3.26 mg Se/kg dry matter for Se application rates of 0, 22.5, 45.0, or 89.9 g Se/ha, respectively). Feeding Se-fertilized alfalfa hay during the 7-wk preconditioning period increased WB-Se concentrations (P Linear<0.001) and body weights (P Linear = 0.002) depending upon the Se-application rate. Based upon our results we suggest that soil-Se fertilization is a potential management tool to improve Se-status and performance in weaned calves in areas with low soil-Se concentrations.