What’s all this about Vitamin E and Selenium for your goats, sheep & cattle? Brooklyn-Canterbury Large Animal Clinic is here to explain! Although it really does not look like spring outside in Connecticut, our veterinarians PROMISE it is just around the corner. Spring in Connecticut & Rhode Island means lots and lots of lambs, kids and calves. An important tool is the proper use of vitamin E and Selenium injections for newborn animals.
What’s selenium? Selenium is a mineral that is vital for proper muscle growth and development. Signs of selenium deficiency in mature animals include poor reproductive performance, weak or dead offspring and retained placentas. With young animals, Dr. Alice Ennis see’s poor growth, depressed immune function and skeletal and cardiac muscle dystrophy. These animals may be born prematurely, or exhibit weakness and inability to stand or walk. Signs in young animals are generally seen in the first few weeks after birth. Vitamin E is closely associated with selenium in its actions, and many of the same signs are seen when there is a deficiency.
In areas where the soil has adequate selenium, good quality forages will provide enough for the health of the livestock. Unfortunately, Connecticut & Rhode Island have soil that is tremendously selenium deficient. Even quality hay grown in the northeast is selenium deficient!
The only solution is to supplement with a high quality mineral mix or block. Our Connecticut veterinary practice also recommends giving injectable selenium to pregnant animals 1 month prior to giving birth, as well as to newborns at birth. Be careful with the amount that you give-selenium is toxic at high doses, and the signs of selenium toxicity are similar to those of deficiency!
We use two products at Brooklyn-Canterbury Large Animal Clinic- Mu-Se and Bo-Se. Mu-Se is a more concentrated solution, and we use this form for large breed sheep and goats, as well as cattle. Bo-Se is the product we recommend for smaller breeds and newborn lambs and kids.
A final note-for those of you that will be bottle feeding lambs and kids: Please use a high quality milk replacer, as cow’s milk does not contain enough selenium and vitamin E for small ruminants! If you have further questions about caring for your goats, sheep or cows, contact our practice.