Effect of Selenium on Cold Adapted Beef Cattle

  • Bruce, L.B. (School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nevada)
  • Received : 1997.06.07
  • Accepted : 1997.11.26
  • Published : 1998.06.01


Cattle in Alaska seemed to be tolerant to low blood selenium (Se) although arctic winter energy demands might exacerbate oxidative damage to tissues lacking protection by Se. The thermogenic properities of brown adipose tissue (BAT) and the long cold adaptation period for Alaskan cattle indicates that they might develop BAT. Eighteen mature beef cows with whole blood Se of< 19 ppb were used to examine possible relation-ships among Se deficiency, tissue lesions, and observable BAT. All cows were wintered on a diet low in Se and nine cows were given supplemental Se provided by intraruminal bolus. Blood Se was elevated (p < .05) from November through February by supplemental Se, but body weight and back fat thickness were unaffected (p < .10). Tissues were taken from two Se deficient cows, two cows supplemented with Se, and two cows given large doses of Se (300 mg by injection) four weeks before slaughter. Histopathological examination of 187 samples of fat (7 to 55 from each cow) showed no observable amount of BAT. Examination of other tissues showed no lesions attributable to Se deficiency.

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