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To determine effects of selenium (Se) and vitamin E (VE) administration in late pregnancy on Se status, plasma immunoglobulin concentrations, and colostrum and milk production of dairy cows, and on Se status, passive immunity, and growth of their offspring.


25 Holstein cows and their offspring.


3 and 1.5 weeks before calving, sodium selenite (5 mg/100 kg of body weight) and d, l-α-tocopheryl acetate (25 IU/100 kg) were administered to 13 cows. The other 12 cows were not treated. Se status was assessed by measurement of glutathione peroxidase activity of erythrocytes (GSH-Px-E).


The 13 treated cows had higher (P < 0.01) GSH-Px-E values at calving and during the first 12 weeks of lactation. Changes in plasma immunoglobulin concentrations before or after calving did not differ between the 2 groups of cows. During the first 36 hours after calving (4 milkings), treated cows produced 22% more colostrum than did their nontreated counterparts (P < 0.005). Percentages of colostral immunoglobulins did not differ between the 2 groups. During the first 12 weeks of lactation, treated cows produced 10% more milk than did nontreated cows (P < 0.005). GSH-Px-E values at birth and 28 days of life were significantly higher in calves from treated cows. Plasma immunoglobulin concentrations and body weight during the first 56 days after birth did not differ between calves born to treated or non-treated cows.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Cows given Se and VE in late pregnancy produce large quantities of colostrum and milk. Colostrum produced from cows given Se and VE is suitable to feed newborn calves and to be stored for later use. Improvement of Se status in calves born to cows given Se and VE in late pregnancy is not beneficial to passive immunity and growth. (Am J Vet Res 1996;57:1776–1780)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research