Selenium Deficiency- White Muscle Disease

Wednesday, 22nd May 2024

It has been suspected that Angora goats are more susceptible to Selenium (Se) deficiency than sheep and other goat breeds.
Most kids affected by white muscle disease are in good condition and are 2–3 months old (1 week to 4 months).

When can deficiencies occur?

  • Lush pastures,
  • Sandy and acid soils with low clay content.
  • When high grain/pellet diets are supplemented
  • High calcium diet and Sulpher diets (Lucern, concentrate feed)

What are the clinical signs?

Young kids - sudden death may occur due to cardiac muscle damage.

  • Lethargy
  • Stiff, short choppy gait, reluctant to move or stand
  • Stand with arched back, may tremble in pain when standing
  • Muscles are sore to the touch (especially back legs)
  • Appetite remains good
  • Sudden exercise may trigger symptoms
  • Cardiac signs resemble pneumonia- frothy nasal discharge, difficulty breathing


  • Poor conception, poor production
  • Abortions, stillbirths, retained placenta
  • Weak kids born

Post Mortem findings.

The muscles look like cooked chicken meat.

Typical lesions of the disease were observed in the majority of skeletal muscles and a white sub-endocardial plaque was present in the left ventricle.

Diagnosis can be made of histopathology samples of the heart muscle which may be streaked with calcified deposits.


Early treatment shows a response in 24 hours (Se abd Vit E). Cardiac damage may be permanent

See article on ‘Is supplanting Se in Angora goats justified?’

White muscle disease in an Angora goat. R.C. Tustin
White muscle disease in sheep and goats. Michael Metzger, Michigan State University

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