Progress in the phasing out of zinc

Progress continues to be made in the effort to ensure the phasing out of medicinal zinc for pigs. SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre has just updated its second action plan and the aim is for the transition to zinc-free production to have minimum impact on pig welfare, antibiotic consumption and efficiency.

In just under two years, medicinal zinc will be banned in European pig production. SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre is firmly focused on finding solutions that can reduce its use in Danish pig production and therefore be ready for zinc-free production before 2022.

In 2016, SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre launched its first action plan for the phasing out of medicinal zinc. The plan contained seven specific measures aimed at finding alternatives to zinc and thereby reducing consumption by piglets and as an additive in feed for finishers.

The second action plan was launched in March 2018 when a number of points were updated. The aim is to phase out medicinal zinc for weaned pigs. The aim is for phasing out to….

  • occur without negatively impacting pig welfare
  • ensure that the low and responsible use of antibiotics is maintained
  • have minimum negative impact on productivity and mortality
  • mean that any financial losses due to lower productivity, more working hours per pig for its care and treatment, as well as higher treatment and feed costs, are kept as low as possible

DKK 100 million worth of research
Great efforts are being made to find alternatives to medicinal zinc. SEGES Danish Pig Production is currently involved in projects with a combined budget of DKK 110 million. Some of the money comes from the pig producers themselves, but the majority from special funds, companies and universities. All the projects have one thing in common: experts at SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre enjoy a fruitful collaboration with universities and commercial firms.

Phasing out medicinal zinc – How, what and why?

  • Zinc is a mineral that all living beings need to grow. In pig production, pigs receive a zinc supplement in their feed because they need the mineral for a number of different physiological processes.
  • Piglets also receive medicinal zinc to relieve the diarrhoea that occurs when they change from liquid to solid feed.
  • The challenge associated with using zinc is that it can, in certain cases, create resistance in the same way as antibiotics.
  • In certain agricultural areas, there can also be high concentrations of zinc in the soil which could potentially lead to environmental problems.
  • In June 2017, the EU Commission decided that the use of medicinal zinc for weaned pigs should be phased out by June 2022.
  • The ban is basically due to the environmental consequences brought about the use of medicinal zinc.
  • SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre wishes to find solutions for the treatment or prevention of weaning diarrhoea – without the use of zinc.

Many projects have been rolled out. Read about some of them here:

A future without the therapeutic use of zinc oxide

New solutions to replace therapeutic use of zinc

Llama protein could play a part in Danish pig production