Effects of feeding selenium-enriched alfalfa hay on immunity and health of weaned beef calves.

TitleEffects of feeding selenium-enriched alfalfa hay on immunity and health of weaned beef calves.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHall JA, Bobe G, Vorachek WR, Vorachek WR, Gorman EM, Mosher WD, Pirelli GJ
JournalBiological trace element research
Date Published2013 Dec

Previously, we reported that feeding selenium (Se)-enriched forage improves antibody titers in mature beef cows, and whole-blood Se concentrations and growth rates in weaned beef calves. Our current objective was to test whether beef calves fed Se-enriched alfalfa hay during the transition period between weaning and movement to a feedlot also have improved immune responses and slaughter weights. Recently weaned beef calves (n = 60) were fed an alfalfa-hay-based diet for 7 weeks, which was harvested from fields fertilized with sodium selenate at 0, 22.5, 45.0, or 89.9 g Se/ha. All calves were immunized with J-5 Escherichia coli bacterin. Serum was collected for antibody titers 2 weeks after the third immunization. Whole-blood neutrophils collected at 6 or 7 weeks were evaluated for total antioxidant potential, bacterial killing activity, and expression of genes associated with selenoproteins and innate immunity. Calves fed the highest versus the lowest level of Se-enriched alfalfa hay had higher antibody titers (P = 0.02), thioredoxin reductase-2 mRNA levels (P = 0.07), and a greater neutrophil total antioxidant potential (P = 0.10), whereas mRNA levels of interleukin-8 receptor (P = 0.02), L-selectin (P = 0.07), and thioredoxin reductase-1 (P = 0.07) were lower. In the feedlot, calves previously fed the highest-Se forage had lower mortality (P = 0.04) and greater slaughter weights (P = 0.02). Our results suggest that, in areas with low-forage Se concentrations, feeding beef calves Se-enriched alfalfa hay during the weaning transition period improves vaccination responses and subsequent growth and survival in the feedlot.

Alternate JournalBiol Trace Elem Res