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Volume 456: debated on Friday 2 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to consider the introduction of organic selenium into the diet of cows to reduce the impact of mastitis. (117988)

It is known that areas of the United Kingdom have mineral deficient soil and that deficiencies of selenium occur in farmed animals. Mineral supplements for cattle can therefore be desirable to help alleviate this where it occurs.

We remain open minded about the possibility of a nutritional link between selenium deficiency and mastitis. The use of selenium supplements in any particular herd should be based on veterinary advice or expert advice from a nutritionist, as selenium can be toxic in excess and has a narrow safety margin. Organic standards allow the inclusion of trace element salts into the diet and in some cases allow trace element treatments within an animal health plan.