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Keywords:

  • Mallards;
  • Selenium;
  • Reproduction;
  • Toxicity test;
  • Teratogenic effects;
  • Selenomethionine;
  • Sodium selenite

Abstract

Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were fed diets containing 1, 5, 10, 25 or 100 ppm selenium as sodium selenite, a diet containing 10 ppm selenium as seleno-DL-methionine or a control diet. There were no effects of 1, 5 or 10 ppm selenium as sodium selenite on either weight or survival of adults or on reproductive success, and there did not appear to be a dose-response relationship at these lower levels. The 100 ppm selenium diet killed 11 of 12 adults; one adult male fed 25 ppm selenium died. Selenium at 25 and 100 ppm caused weight loss in adults. Females fed 25 ppm selenium took longer to begin laying eggs and intervals between eggs were longer than in females in other treatment groups. Hatching success appeared to be reduced in birds fed 10 ppm selenium as selenomethionine, but the reduction was not statistically significant. The survival of ducklings and the mean number of 21-d-old ducklings produced per female were reduced in the 25 ppm selenium as sodium selenite group and the 10 ppm selenium as selenomethionine group. Egg weights were not affected by any selenium treatment, but 25 ppm selenium lowered the Ratcliffe Index. Duckling weights at hatching and at 21 d of age were reduced 28 and 36%, respectively, in birds fed 25 ppm selenium, as compared with controls. Body weights measured on day 21 were lower for ducklings fed 10 ppm selenium as selenomethionine than in some other groups. Selenium in concentrations of 10 and 25 ppm as sodium selenite caused mainly embryotoxic effects, whereas 10 ppm as selenomethionine was more teratogenic, causing hydrocephaly, bill defects, eye defects (microphthalmia and anophthalmia) and foot and toe defects, including ectrodactyly. Selenomethionine was much more readily taken up by mallards and passed into their eggs than was sodium selenite, and a greater proportion of the selenium in the eggs ended up in the white when selenomethionine was fed. Adult males accumulated more selenium than did females, probably because of the females' ability to eliminate selenium in their eggs.