Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

Vaccine to replace medicinal zinc developed alongside the COVID-19 vaccine

In close collaboration with Copenhagen University, SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre is currently working on a vaccine designed to further reduce antibiotic consumption and make the use of medicinal zinc unnecessary in the weaning of pigs.

It’s full speed ahead at SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre and Copenhagen University in the development of a vaccine against weaning diarrhoea. The process has been underway since 2019 but was delayed in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19. However, progress has been made as some of the work that has been carried out in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine is also beneficial in the development of a vaccine against weaning diarrhoea.

Antibiotic consumption reduced and medicinal zinc unnecessary
If the development of the vaccine is successful, this will have a significant impact on the use of antibiotics in piglet production and make zinc in piglet feed unnecessary.

"We’re dealing with a vaccine that has huge potential for both Danish and international pig production, so this is a crucial focus area where we can make significant progress in terms of antibiotic consumption,” says Poul Bækbo, Senior Veterinary Adviser, Nutrition & Health, SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre.

Read also: More Danish pigs to be produced without antibiotics

The first herd to be vaccinated in May
Initial trials with the vaccine will begin in May at SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre’s testing centre. A total of 60 pigs will receive the vaccine combination.

"Initially, it is primarily a question of whether the pigs respond immunologically: that their immune system produces antibodies against E.coli, Lawsonia and Brachyspira, the bacteria that the vaccine is intended to fight off,” explains Poul Bækbo.

Read also: Progress in the phasing out of zinc