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Benefits of Selenium Yeast in Ruminant Diet

Dairy cow

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Selenium is an essential trace element for animal growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Selenium yeast has significant effects in improving the animal body’s antioxidant capacity, improving animal production performance and anti-stress, promoting body growth and development, and improving animal immunity.

What is selenium-enriched yeast?

Selenium-enriched yeast or Selenium yeast is a baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that contains high levels of organic selenium (Se) compounds such as selenomethionine and selenocysteine. It’s an organic source of selenium.

Which health benefits for dairy cows and calves?

Enhanced immune functions and immune defenses

It’s reflected that the potential of selenium and Vitamin E supplementation to reduce somatic cell count (SCC) in milk and prevent sub-clinical mastitis in dairy cows. Mastitis is usually described as the costliest disease for the dairy industry (Weiss et al., 1990). Dairy cow supplementation with selenium yeast can help to reduce SCC in milk more efficiently than mineral selenite, as shown in a study by Malbé et al. Smith et al. have linked the protective effect of selenium to the influence of the anti-oxidant status on neutrophil functions, the circulating immune cells implicated in the early response against pathogens. When anti-oxidant capacity is limited, the lifespan of those immune cells is reduced, and the infection can become established, or the severity of the infection can increase.

Enhanced reproductive functions

The use of yeast selenium can also promote the release of gonadotropin during the estrus cycle, increase the content of follicle-stimulating hormone and progesterone, significantly increase the conception rate and promote the cow’s estrus.

Improved beef meat quality

Based on a recent trial conducted at PadovaUniversity (Italy) in 2010, new findings show that selenium yeast can improve meat processing quality and organoleptic qualities compared to mineral selenium supplementation. This trial was performed in a commercial fattening unit on Charolais beef during the finishing period (210 days), and meat quality was evaluated after 5 and 10 days of aging. First of all, this study showed that, compared to the mineral source, Selenium yeast significantly improved the animal selenium status(higher blood and tissue selenium concentrations), confirming the superior bioavailability of the organic form of selenium.

But, most interestingly, the selenium yeast also improved several aspects of meat quality.

  • Selenium yeast reduced meat drip loss during maturation, offering better yield for the slaughterhouse.
  • Selenium yeast improved meat aspect (lightness), which is a critical decision criterion for customers and is part of meat organoleptic qualities.
  • Selenium yeast improved meat tenderness (inversely proportional to muscle sheer force), another critical organoleptic quality, described as the first quality criteria sought by consumers.

Increased milk anti-oxidant power

To increase selenium concentration in milk, many investigators have shown the importance of the form of the selenium supplement. While increased mineral selenium supplementation can increase cow blood selenium content, it does not increase milk selenium content. Unlike organic selenium, which gives a good dose-response curve.

Can we expect extra benefits beyond animal health?

Suppose Selenium supplementation is essential for optimal health and fertility, especially in high-producing animals subject to important oxidative stress. Its benefits can be further observed at the processor and consumer levels. Indeed, several trials have shown that selenium yeast supplementation increases the selenium, thus the anti-oxidant status of animal products: milk and meat.

Considering that scientists believe that human dietary selenium supply is sub-optimal in most parts of the world, selenium supplementation of milk and meat producing cattle could help address a significant public health issue by providing selenium-enriched food products.

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