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|Title||Effect of feeding selenium-fertilized alfalfa hay on performance of weaned beef calves.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2013|
|Authors||Hall, JA, Bobe, G, Hunter, JK, Vorachek, WR, Stewart, WC, Vanegas, JA, Estill, CT, Mosher, WD, Pirelli, GJ|
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.