Exploring the effects of selenium on cell survival to improve lactation of dairy cows and functionality of their milk


Supra – nutritional consumption of organic selenium (Se) reduces the incidence and progression of several types of cancer. The organic Se content of with cows’ milk can be increased by supplementing cow diets with organic Se. In vitro preliminary data suggest that Se supplementation of cows may improve the persistency of daily milk yield, which is of economic benefit to Ontario dairy farmers. To test this hypothesis, 4 different levels of selenium will be fed to lactating dairy cows and mammary epithelial cells analyzed for proliferation and death rates. This will be followed by studies examining the impact of consuming selenium enriched milk on cancer progression in a rodent model. The benefit to Alltech will be two fold, 1) developing human nutraceutical milk enriched with selenium and 2) mechanistic explanation for improving lactation persistency utlilizing Sel-Plex (Alltech’s organic selenium). Fundamental research on mammary cell dynamics can yield insights into current breast cancer models.

Faculty Supervisor:

Dr. John Cant


Scott Cieslar




Animal science




University of Guelph



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