Selenium deficient


Hi Dr Kellon 
Long time no talk!
And this is a horrible topic but I’m hopeful you can help. 
We (my daughter actually) bred a horse and we have had tragically lost the baby. 
Starting from the beginning tho, we bred her two years ago and confirmed her pregnancy at 45 days. But at 5 mo, just before the first pneumabort she slipped. We didn’t find the fetus. 
She was bred again in spring and settled well again. So on the advise of the repro vet started pneumabort at 3 mo. 
Of note at about the time of the first pregnancy check I noticed she had very tight hamstrings and a stringhalt like walk. We did some stretching and it didn’t progress or get better. 
Fast forward to Easter night, she snuck in delivery of her 88 lb colt between our checks. He was up dry and nursing. However her placenta retained. Vet came by 11 and flushed and got the placenta out. Foal check he looked great. The IGG was early but over 800 so we were good. 
Mare got smz for 14 days and Banamine for a week for the placenta retention. 
Monday he did great all day. Tuesday day time was ok but that evening he was pretty sleepy and was sterna but didn’t get up. Then lied back down. We let him nap a half hour then my daughter got him up, hind end weak but once up he walked and nurses and didn’t lay down so she left them be about 11. 
Wednesday morning at 8 feeds we found the foal dead. No trauma. Appears to have been during sleep. 
We took him for necropsy. 
Absolutely nothing wrong except extreme selenium deficiency. 
Ugh. I will forever kick myself for this. She is a super easy keeper and never needed grain. So I never gave her any! So... I never gave her supplements! What was I thinking? Argh!!!
So. She is also kinda old. But has awesome old bloodlines that you just can’t get anymore. So we are try again. And I must never have this happen again. 
We started her on 1 qt strategy gx plus a 1 oz scoop CA Trace twice a day. I guess that gives her about 2.5 mg/day. 
Is that adequate? Should I give her BoSe? I have some. 
She was bred today, had a 43 mm follicle on the right. Day 28. Got HCG. Fingers crossed. (Live cover so will get to decide if she’s needing another cover Wednesday, up to her)
But. Did I mention I can’t let this happen again????
And here’s the other part.... just this month, I have heard of two other deaths with the same symptoms and story. And one who is alive and at UCDavis. With confirmed white muscle disease too. 
I have heard of WMD but have never heard of a real case of it. And now 4?? And seriously all I hear from all of my Equine community is that this year many foals are dying. 
What is different??
Do I need to supplement my other horses. Most are well into their 20’s now. One is 35!!! He has cushings of course. Lol
One is about 28, he’s my longest pergolide boy, I think he’s been on for 13 years now. Went up last year from 3 to 4 mg. This winter his left front carpus developed a huge mass/ cystic formation? I dunno but it’s time to let him go. But he’s not been lame really before. So he’s been a Pergolide success. 

Can you lend some help for my mare?? We may only have this year left to get a foal from her. She’s 24 now!! 
Her name is Conejos Ooo La Cha Cha. We call her Cha Cha. 
Her foal was Whiskey (Sire is Tequila) 

Beth Kennalley 


Eleanor Kellon, VMD

Hi Beth,

Nice to hear from you anyway!

I can't tell you why, but the bottom line reason is the diet was low enough in selenium to trigger an obvious deficiency disease in the foals. Could be forage coming from a different reason or change in soil selenium levels from different fertilizer or different water supply. You should be fine after about a month of selenium yeast supplementation but check her whole blood selenium level to be sure. Check vitamin E too.

This is a good example of how you can often  "get away with" nutrient deficiencies and imbalances in healthy adults but increasing age and other stresses, like pregnancy, can tip them over the edge into a full blown classical deficiency. Less dramatic consequences may include unexplained anemia, muscle/nerve signs, poor immunity, low thyroid function, hoof and coat issues. 
Eleanor in PA 
EC Owner 2001

Frances C.

What is her breed? Warm Blood? Paso Fino? An 88 lb foal is pretty small for a horse. You must be doing something right in horsekeeping to have such long lived horses. Congratulations! I know the heartbreak of loosing foals. Has the stallion and mare been tested for inheritable genetic diseases? Is the mare in pain? Was the placenta normal size? Is she fit and strong enough to carry a foal to term? Ask yourself these questions. I wonder about "selenium deficiency" - perhaps it is a symptom of something else. Could the banamine or  smz got into the foal via the milk? As an aside I quit giving my broodmares anti-abortion shots after loosing the foals 24-48 hours after administration - just sickening even to this day and that was almost 20 years ago.
- Frances C.
December 2017, Washington & California
Case history:
Phoenix's Photo Album:


I live in a notoriously low selenium area in the Great Lakes. My neighbor milked around 120 head of Holsteins for decades and several years ago, suddenly started having calf after calf born weak that only survived for a day or so. He finally grabbed one right after birth, put it in the cab of his pick up and drove it straight to Michigan State. It died shortly after arrival, but the diagnosis was WMD. Had his custom supplement mix tested, that was supposed to have selenium in it, and voila, no selenium of measurable usefulness. Different custom mix company and no more problems. 

I also have had vets who routinely give a selenium/vit E injection to the foal as part of the foal check after birth.  May be something to discuss with your vet.
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: .