Selenium deficiency in sheep


Selenium is an essential element in the diet of animals and has a variety of roles:

  1. As an anti-oxidant  in conjunction with vitamin E to prevent and repair cell damage
  2. In immune function
  3. In growth and fertility.

A deficiency can cause white muscle disease (WMD) in lambs and weaners, scouring, ill thrift and lowered wool production in weaners and hoggets and in some cases infertility in ewes.

There are other diseases that cause similar clinical signs, and there are also other diseases which may be caused by a combination of low levels of both selenium and vitamin E.

Selenium deficiency must be confirmed as the cause of disease before treatment because selenium can be toxic if given in excess amounts.

This Primefact discusses:

  • causes of selenium deficiency
  • areas affected
  • symptoms of selenium deficiency
  • diseases resembling selenium deficiency
  • diagnosis of selenium deficiency
  • treatment
  • prevention.


Primefact 471 Third Edition

Published: Sep 2016