Forty pairs of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were fed 15 ppm selenium as selenomethionine for about 21 weeks during winter. Twenty pairs served as controls. At the end of 21 weeks, which coincided with the onset of the reproductive season, selenium treatment was ended. Four birds died while on selenium treatment. Treated females lost weight, and their egg-laying was delayed. Hatching success of some of the first eggs laid by selenium-treated females was lower than that of controls, and a few of these early eggs contained deformed embryos, but, after a period of about two weeks off the selenium-treated diet, reproductive success returned to a level comparable with that of controls. The return to normal reproductive success was the result of a corresponding decrease in selenium concentrations in eggs once selenium treatment ended.
Additional Publication Details
Reproduction of mallards following overwinter exposure to selenium