TitleFeeding selenium-biofortified alfalfa hay during the preconditioning period improves growth, carcass weight, and nasal microbial diversity of beef calves.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsHall, JA, Isaiah, A, Bobe, G, Estill, CT, Bishop-Stewart, JK, T Davis, Z, Suchodolski, JS, Pirelli, GJ
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2020
KeywordsAnimal Feed, Animals, Biofortification, Body Weight, Cattle, Humans, Medicago sativa, Selenium

We previously reported that feeding Se-biofortified alfalfa hay to weaned beef calves in a preconditioning program decreases morbidity and mortality during the feedlot period. To understand the mode of action by which supranutritional Se supplementation supports calf health, we examined the effect of agronomic Se-biofortification on nasal microbiome and fecal parasites. Recently weaned Angus-cross beef calves (n = 30) were randomly assigned to two groups and fed an alfalfa hay-based diet for 9 weeks in a preconditioning program. Alfalfa hay was harvested from fields fertilized with sodium selenate at a rate of 0 or 90 g Se/ha. Calculated Se intake from dietary sources was 1.09 and 27.45 mg Se/calf per day for calves consuming alfalfa hay with Se concentrations of 0.06 and 3.47 mg Se/kg dry matter, respectively. Feeding Se-biofortified alfalfa hay for 9 weeks was effective at increasing whole-blood Se concentrations (556 ± 11 vs 140 ± 11 ng/mL; P < 0.001) and increasing body weight (PTreatment, = 0.03) in weaned beef calves. Slaughter yield grades were higher for calves that had been fed Se-enriched alfalfa hay during the preconditioning period (PTreatment = 0.008). No significant differences were observed in fecal parasite load, which remained low. The nasal microbiome and microbiota diversity within calves and across calves expanded from weaning (week 0) to the feedlot period (week 12), which was promoted by feeding Se-biofortified alfalfa hay. Especially concerning was the expansion of nasal Mycoplasmataceae in the feedlot, which reached over 50% of the total microbiota in some calves. In conclusion, we identified dietary Se-biofortified alfalfa hay as a potential promoter of nasal microbiome genome and microbiota diversity, which may explain in part high-Se benefits for prevention of bovine respiratory disease complex in beef calves.

Alternate JournalPLoS One
PubMed ID33259499
PubMed Central IDPMC7707589