The potential of silage lactic acid bacteria-derived nano-selenium as a dietary supplement in sheep

Michael RF Lee, H. R. Flemming, Frances M Whittington, C Hodgson, P.T. Suraj, D Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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ContextSelenium (Se) is a trace element essential for cellular function in animals as a component of the enzymesglutathione peroxidase and iodothyronine-5-deiodinase. In many parts of Europe, Se is often deficient in livestock diets dueto the low Se status of soil. Supplementation of diets with selenised yeast (predominately as seleno-methionine) or inorganicsodium selenite is common practice in most livestock systems, including ruminants. Lactic acid bacteria have been showntoconvert inorganic Se into predominantly elemental nano-Se, which has been used recently in human pro-biotics as a lesstoxic form of Se. Therefore, silage lactic acid bacteria may provide a supplementation route of bioavailable nano-Se forruminants.
AimHere, we report onthe effect of feeding inoculated silage enriched with a supra-nutritionallevel of nano-Se (Selage)versus control inoculated silage (Silage) on the Se status of finishing lambs and their products, followed by a second study where blood parameters were investigated in ewes. 
MethodsIn the first study, 40 Charollais · Suffolk lambs (42 1.7 kg) were paired according to weight and sex, thenallocated to the two treatments for 8 or 10 weeks. Uptake of Se into wool was temporally assessed, as well as excretion of Seinto faeces. Selenium concentrations in blood and muscle, carcass characteristics and meat quality are reported postmortem.In the second study, individually penned Suffolk · Mule ewes (n = 12; 76 4.5 kg) were offered the same diets as in the firststudy. Blood parameters were assessed at the start and after 6 weeks, with intake and excretion into faeces and urine assessedtemporally throughout the study.
Key resultsIn the first study, dry-matter (DM) intake was similar in both treatment groups, at 0.8 0.03 kg/day, but Seconcentrations of the diets were significantly different, resulting in intakes of ~0.14 and 1.60 mg/day on the Silage and Selage diets, respectively. This was reflected in higher Se concentrations in faeces (0.4 vs 2.0 mg/kg DM; P < 0.001), wool(0.11 vs 0.25 mg/kg DM; P < 0.001), blood (0.19 vs 0.46 mg/L; P < 0.001) and muscle (0.31 vs 0.41 mg/kg: P < 0.01) on the Selagethan on the Silage diet.Colour (chroma) shelf life of the meat was significantly higher onthe Selage treatment (8.05 vs9.2 days; P < 0.05). In the second trial, for ewes fed Selage, blood seleno-methionine increased from 0.21 to 0.25 mg/L andseleno-cysteine from 0.25 to 0.35 mg/L after 6 weeks on the treatment, whereas there was no change in ewes fed Silage. Glutathione peroxidase increased, whereas haematocrit, haemoglobin and platelet count were decreased across time during the study, but there was no difference between the treatments. 
ConclusionsNano-Se provided by the Selage treatment was shown to be available to sheep and improve shelf life, withno adverse haematological effects.
ImplicationsThere is potential to use silage inoculants to provide bioavailable Se to ruminants. Further research is required to determine the most appropriate dose for animal performance and product quality.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Production Science
Issue number11
Early online date16 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sept 2019


  • lactic acid bacteria
  • meat quality
  • nano-Se
  • sheep production


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