Picture: Landbrug & Fødevarer

Picture: Landbrug & Fødevarer

New solutions to replace therapeutic use of zinc

By 2022, the Danish pig industry will have stopped using therapeutic zinc during weaning. Intensive efforts are therefore underway to find new solutions. Christian Fink Hansen, Sector Director at SEGES, addressed the issue at the Herning Pig Congress.

Christian Fink Hansen pointed out that there are not quick solutions or miracle remedies that can replace zinc.

”However, we’re doing all we can to find a satisfactory combination of several different solutions.”

Part of the solution lies in how piglets are fed. Recent trials have focused on the allocation of protein and one conclusion is that the amount of protein can be reduced immediately after weaning, which cuts the risk of diarrhoea. To limit the negative effect of low protein levels, it is possible to raise the protein level again during the subsequent period.

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"Although this trial result is interesting news, we believe that the work to reduce the risk of diarrhoea begins when the pigs are still small, which is why we’re starting to look at other areas. By giving a combination of milk until Day 10 and then dry or wet feed until weaning, we can prepare the piglet’s intestinal flora so that weaning can take place in the best possible way,” said Christian Fink Hansen.

The website zinkguide.dk contains advice and checklists. The guide is updated on a regular basis and gives Danish pig producers ideas on how to reduce the risk of diarrhoea during weaning and thus the need to use zinc. The phasing out of the therapeutic use of zinc is for environmental reasons.

Efforts to find other solutions to the therapeutic use of zinc are important in order that antibiotic consumption can remain at a low level. As consumers place extremely high demands on food, antibiotic consumption, animal welfare and the climate are increasingly high on their agenda.

Read also: Highlights from this year’s Pig Congress