This review article examines the role of selenium (Se) and the effects of Se supplementation especially in the bovine species. Selenium is an important trace element in cattle. Some of its roles include the participation in the antioxidant defense the cattle farms. The nutritional requirements of Se in cattle are estimated at 100 μg/kg DM (dry matter) for beef cattle and at 300 μg/kg DM for dairy cows. The rations high in fermentable carbohydrates, nitrates, sulfates, calcium or hydrogen cyanide negatively influence the organism’s use of the selenium contained in the diet. The Se supplementation may reduce the incidence of metritis and ovarian cysts during the postpartum period. The increase in fertility when adding Se is attributed to the reduction of the embryonic death during the first month of gestation. A use of organic Se in feed would provide a better transfer of Se in calves relative to mineral Se supplementation. The addition of Se yeasts in the foodstuffs of cows significantly increases the Se content and the percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in milk compared to the addition of sodium selenite. The enzyme 5-iodothyronine deiodinase is a seleno-dependent selenoprotein. It is one of the last proteins to be affected in the event of Se deficiency. This delay in response could explain the fact that several studies did not show the effect of Se supplementation on growth and weight gain of calves. Enrichment of Se in the diet did not significantly affect the slaughter weight and carcass yield of bulls. The impact and results of Se supplementation in cattle depend on physiological stage, Se status of animals, type and content of Se and types of Se administration. Further studies in Se supplementation should investigate the speciation of Se in food and yeasts, as well as understanding their metabolism and absorption. This constitute a path to exploit in order to explain certain different effects of Se.
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