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Effect of supplementation with barium selenate on the fertility, prolificacy and lambing performance of hill sheep
  1. C. Muñoz, DVM, PhD1,
  2. A. F. Carson, BAgr, PhD2,
  3. M. A. McCoy, MVB, PhD, MRCVS3,
  4. L. E. R. Dawson, BAgr, PhD2,
  5. D. Irwin2,
  6. A. W. Gordon, BSc, PGDip4 and
  7. D. J. Kilpatrick, MSc, PhD4
  1. 1 Queen's University Belfast, University Road, Belfast BT7 1NN
  2. 2 Agriculture Branch, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Large Park, Hillsborough, County Down BT26 6DR
  3. 3 Veterinary Sciences Division, AFBI, Stoney Road, Belfast BT4 3SD
  4. 4 Biometrics Department, AFBI, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX
  1. Dr Muñoz's present address is AFBI, Large Park, Hillsborough, County Down BT26 6DR
  2. E-mail for correspondence: camila.munoz{at}


Six weeks before mating, the ewes on six hill farms were randomly assigned to receive either a subcutaneous injection of a long-acting supplement containing 50 mg/ml selenium as barium selenate, or no injected selenium. Before the treatment, the mean activity of glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx) in the ewes on the six farms ranged from 166 to 592 U/g haemoglobin (Hb) and their plasma selenium concentrations ranged from 0·60 to 1·61 μmol/l. Treated ewes had higher plasma selenium concentrations and higher GSHPx activities than control ewes during the study. Conception rates were higher in the treated ewes than in the control ewes. At six weeks, the lambs born to the treated ewes had higher plasma selenium and GSHPx levels than the controls. The treated ewes reared 9 per cent more lambs than the control ewes. The treated ewes had lower abortion rates, and higher liveweights and body condition scores than the controls. There were weak but positive associations between the plasma selenium and GSHPx levels of the ewes and their reproductive performance.

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