Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/78109
Title: A study on the selenium content of local soil and fodder in relation to the selenium content of cow's blood
Authors: Cauchi, Gilbert (1999)
Keywords: Agriculture -- Malta
Animal breeding -- Malta
Soils -- Malta
Animal nutrition -- Malta
Issue Date: 1999
Citation: Cauchi, G. (1999). A study on the selenium content of local soil and fodder in relation to the selenium content of cow's blood (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: Selenium was only considered as an important element for animals when it was identified as a toxic principle in plants which induced lameness, hoof sloughing and death in grazing livestock. This condition being referred to as alkali disease. Later, selenium was also considered as an essential microelement. Symptoms such as white muscle disease, reduced reproductive disease and an increase in the incidence of mastitis, have all been associated with a low selenium index. The major biological role of selenium is the formation of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase and constituent of selenocysteine, which is being considered as the twenty-first amino acid. Selenium also has a narrow therapeutic index, that is the safety margin between the safe and toxic level. Being an island of sedimentary origin, there was much concern on the selenium levels present. The alkaline nature of our soil permits selenium to be present in the reduced (selenate or selenite) form. In this study the selenium status of local soil, fodder and all other forms of selenium intake, together with the selenium level in cow's serum were investigated. Random samples were taken. After digestion with mineral acids in the case of soil and food, all other samples were analysed using the Spectra AA-30 graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometer. Maltese soil was found to have an average selenium content of 0.645 mg/kg OW. Selenium content in tap water is adequate, the amount of selenium being ingested by cattle averaged 0.141 ppm. This satisfies the allowance of the National Research Council. Local cattle had a mean selenium blood content of 0.185ppm. This was lower when compared to the selenium status of Dutch cattle from but higher than that of calves and sheep. Statistical analyses showed no significant difference between the selenium content of soils and fodder. The only difference which could be noticed was that between blood selenium levels of sheep and cattle. The results did not confirm a general impression, that there could be a fear for selenium toxicity in the Maltese islands. Selenium in soil was much lower than expected. However Maltese fodder, having a selenium content of 0.185 mg/kg DW, showed that there could be a good availability of selenium in Maltese soil due to their alkaline nature. Before any measures to increase the selenium status of local fodder by at least 0.1 ppm, studies should be carried out on the vitamin E content, a vitamin which works in close relation to selenium. Calves and ewes should on the other hand be given some form of selenium supplementation to avoid problems such as muscular dystrophy and to boost up their immune system. Drenches is the advisable method. Although more expensive than other techniques, it ensure individual dosing. Also the dose can be increased in those cattle or sheep having symptoms of selenium deficiency.
Description: M.SC.AGRICULTURAL&VET.PHARM.
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/78109
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - InsES - 1995-2013

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