Selenium (Se)

A distinction is made below between the role of selenium in livestock and selenium in soil.

Selenium in animals

Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element, meaning that it is only needed in very small amounts in the body of animals. Selenium is important in the production of various enzymes, including an enzyme that defuses peroxides and free radicals that can damage cell membranes. Selenium is also important in iodine metabolism.

Selenium Requirements (CVB, 2016).
Category Per day/per animal per kg/DM
Young cattle from 4 months 0.40 mg 0.10 mg
Young cattle from 9 months 0.62 mg 0.11 mg
Young cattle from 16 months 0.87 mg 0.12 mg
Dry 8-3 weeks to calving 1.44 mg 0.13 mg
Dry 3-0 weeks to calving 1.44 mg 0.13 mg
Lactating (20 kg) 2.72 mg 0.15 mg
Lactating (40 kg) 4.22 mg 0.18 mg


Selenium deficiency in animals
Selenium deficiencies will manifest themselves in muscle disorders, reduced resistance and hormonal imbalances. In the cow, this will be evident in muscle stiffness, muscle tremors, faster susceptibility to infections and reduced fertility and stillbirth.

Selenium excess in animals
An excess of selenium tends to produce the same symptoms, with the physical conditions manifesting mainly as respiratory problems, blindness and heart failure.
The presence of selenium is negatively affected by other nutrients such as Sulphur and iron. These have a displacing effect on selenium. By having analyses carried out, you can anticipate possible adverse interactions in the soil or ration.

Selenium in soil and plants

Soils with a higher amount of organic matter also contain more selenium. For example, sandy soils, with a low organic matter content, often have a low selenium content.

For plants, unlike animals, selenium is not an essential trace element. The absorption of selenium by plants is influenced by the oxygen balance and pH of the soil, among other things. With increasing pH, the availability of selenium also increases.