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THE SOW PHASES OUT ZINC FROM THE WEANING FEED

When zinc oxide in piglet feed is banned by June 2022, you need to find a solution that keeps diarrhoea at a minimum without using pharmacological Zinc Oxide above 150 ppm in the weaning feed.

One of the methods of zinc-free production is to improve the overall health of the piglet.

A healthy piglet with a balanced gut micre flora is less susceptible to disease-causing bacteria, because the bacteria have a harder time colonising the gut wall. 

Healthy piglets are far easier (and much more fun) to care for.

You can read more about how to achieve better piglet health on this page.

HOW TO IMPROVE PIGLET HEALTH WITHOUT ZINC?

The sow determines the health of your piglets.

2/3 of the piglet’s health is determined during pregnancy and lactation. The remaining 1/3 depends on the time after weaning and up to 25-30 kilos.

That’s why we recommend that you direct all of your attention to the sow.

When the sow is in shape, you move on to focusing on the weaning feed.

In the image below, the sows influence on piglet performance is compiled.

THE SOWS INFLUENCE ON ZINC-FREE WEANING

During the gestation period, the sow must ensure that you have uniform and vital piglets.

During lactation, the piglets need a sufficient amount of milk and antibodies. Some antibodies remain in the blood up to six months after weaning, so it is not entirely indifferent what the quality of the sow milk looks like.

The effort in the gestation and farrowing section stretches into the weaning section and is evident in the health of the piglets.

FECAL SCORE FOR PIGLETS

Piglets from sows fed functional protein had more firm faeces with a score of 1.4 in average (Pedersen & Toft, 2011). Piglets from sows fed standard feed had a score of 2.1.

LESS POST-WEANING DIGESTIVE DISTURBANCES WITH FUNCTIONAL PROTEINS IN THE SOW FEED

Around weaning, functional proteins can reduce the number of incidences of digestive disturbances. Like Zinc Oxide in the weaning feed, EP199 for sows and EP100i for piglets affects the prevalence of post-weaning digestive disturbances and reduces it by up to 59% compared to a sow on standard feed. 28.2% of piglets from primiparous got digestive disturbances. To sows fed functional protein, 11.2% of the piglets got digestive disturbances.

DURATION OF POST-WEANING DIGESTIVE DISTURBANCES

If digestive disturbances occurred, the duration was shortened, and the severity of decreased for piglets from sows fed functional protein. For example, the duration of digestive disturbances was almost reduced by half (3.4 days) compared to piglets from sows fed standard feed with an average of 6.2 days.

Functional proteins supports zinc-free production by:

Changing the composition of gut bacteria of both sows and piglets

Improving the sows ability to utilize the feed better and increasing the nourishment transported to the fetuses

Increasing the supply of oxygen to the fetuses during farrowing

Boosting the milk production and the number of antibodies in the milk

Increasing growth before and after weaning

But better health takes time – up to a year. And that’s why you should start now.

WATER AND HYGIENE MATTER MORE THAN GOOD FEED

Regardless of your feeding strategy, clean water and proper hygiene is a must.

If you are unsure whether you have bacteria in your water and hard water (high amount of calcium and magnesium measured in dH), have it checked out through your advisors or by sending samples for analysis.

Even the world’s best sow and weaning feed can not help you if you have major problems with water or hygiene on your farm.

At European Protein, we often check the water quality before we start up new customers. If you are using liquid feeding, we also check for other problems like yeast. 

EXPERIENCE WITH EP199 FOR THE SOW HERD

Read more about what your fellow pig producers experience after using EP199 for their sow herd.

Image of pig producer Michael Rasmussen, owner of Stokkevadgaard Pig Production, while checking the sows performance on a chart above the farrowing crate
Gitte has weaned more than 120,000 zinc free piglets
Seaweed helps pig producers with zincfree weaning
Photo of Bankers Agro employees
A picture of pig producer Michael Rasmussen, in the process of feeding the piglets in the weaner unit
Svineproducent der fodrer EP199 til sine søer.
Et billede af svineproducent Nikolaj Larsen, der betragter smågrisene i klimastalden
Sows fed fermented rapeseed and seaweed provide more milk and stronger piglets.
Thomas Jessen anvender fermenteret raps EP100i i sit smågrisefoder

HOW DOES ZINC AFFECT THE PIGLETS?

Zinc has the ability to multiply the bacterial flora in the piglet’s intestines. At the same time, zinc reduces disease-causing bacteria in the intestinal flora. Piglet feed with zinc also increases the length of the intestinal fibres, which must ensure good absorption of nutrients from the feed.

But zinc is not necessarily good for the piglet. Zinc oxide is also a cause of inflammation in the piglet’s intestines. You can read more about the disadvantages of zinc oxide here.

Some piglet producers will find that growth can actually increase when zinc is phased out, such as Thomas Jessen, who has run a zinc-free production for many years.

WHY IS ZINC OXIDE IN WEANING FEED BANNED?

Zinc Oxide is believed to contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance. Resistance transmits from one bacteria to another, and therefore the use of Zinc Oxide can lead to the development of more untreatable multi-resistant bacteria.

Therefore, the Authorities are trying to limit the development of antibiotic resistance in animals and humans. A focus that is shared throughout the EU and goes by the name “One Health”.

In June 2017, the European Commission decided to phase out the use of Zinc Oxide over five years. In June 2022, the phasing out of pharmacological Zinc has been completed.

WHAT IS ZINC OXIDE?

Zinc Oxide has the chemical name ZnO and is also known as medicinal zinc, veterinary zinc,  therapeutic zinc and pharmacological zinc.

Zinc Oxide is used in the piglet feed during weaning and should not be confused with dietary zinc, which is added to the piglet feed.

Pharmacological Zinc has been used since the 1990s when scientific experiments showed that Zinc Oxide in piglet feed reduced the incidence of post-weaning diarrhoea. The official recommendation was set at 2,500 ppm, fed up to 14 days after weaning. Since then, it has been found that the same effect is achieved with 1500 ppm zinc, as the piglet can not absorb such large amounts of zinc oxide.

The use of medicinal zinc in Denmark peaked in 2015, after which consumption has dropped by more than 50 tonnes up to 2020.

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ABOUT EUROPEAN PROTEIN

European Protein is a Danish family-owned protein producer. We work to promote health and productivity for animals through functional and sustainable plant proteins. The company was founded in 2011 and has protein factories in Denmark, Ukraine and the US.

European Protein GMP+ certificate

European Protein is GMP+-certified

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+45 75 38 80 40, [email protected]

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