Q&A with Dr. Terry Ward, global director, Research and Nutritional Services, Zinpro Corporation

Q. What distinguishes Zinpro Performance Minerals® from other trace mineral products on the market?

A. Just as the name implies, Zinpro Performance Minerals offer performance benefits beyond what ordinary minerals provide. What primarily differentiates our products is how we design the Performance Mineral molecule to deliver improved absorption and metabolism by the animal to achieve the highest biological efficacy. It all begins with our chemistry.

Some ordinary mineral ligands have such tight bonds that the mineral never releases and therefore is not available for use by the animal in metabolism. Other mineral ligands have such loose bonding that the minerals rapidly dissociate from the ligand and become subject to the same negative antagonisms that occur with inorganic trace minerals. Zinpro Performance Minerals® are unique, patented molecules, featuring just the right bonding strength to deliver essential trace minerals for efficient animal absorption and metabolism, resulting in improved animal performance.

Q. What is your process to determine whether products are Performance Minerals® or ordinary trace minerals?

A. We refer to this process as the “5-Rs” (Research, Repeatability, Response, Return and Reassurance). Our team of specialists works every day to demonstrate the advantages of Performance Minerals in well-designed research studies. We conduct multiple studies to demonstrate repeatability, meaning that we can consistently show the response of interest. A primary goal is to show a strong return on investment for our customers. And of course, this is all made possible by starting with world-class patented products produced at  our company-owned manufacturing facilities to provide reassurance to the customer that every pound or kilogram of Zinpro Performance Minerals produced is of the highest (and most consistent) quality and safety.

Q. In 2015, Zinpro surpassed important milestones with the publication of the 50th dairy and 50th poultry peer-reviewed publications – why are these milestones significant?

A. These are truly landmark moments for Zinpro, demonstrating the value of our Performance Minerals® to our customers, well beyond all of our competitors. To have over 50 peer-reviewed publications in a single species is unheard of, much less to have over 50 peer-reviewed publications in multiple species. This is a credit to the founders and owners of Zinpro who have supported research from day one and to our team of world class research scientists who conduct the quality research that contributed to these publication milestones.

Q. Why does Zinpro invest so much in peer-reviewed research, and what is different about it compared to field-trial research?

A. Peer-reviewed research is designed and conducted in such a way that independent scientists agree with the rigor of the design and the interpretation of the results. In addition, peer-reviewed studies will provide enough detail so third-party scientists should be able to replicate the research study and results. The term “peer-reviewed” means a study has been submitted to a scientific journal for publication. As a part of the process, the study methods and results have been reviewed and approved by multiple third-party reviewers, typically expert scientists within the same area of expertise. In comparison, field studies often lack a true control, have no replication and no statistical analysis.

As to why Zinpro invests so heavily in peer-reviewed research – that started with our founder, Dean Anderson, and his unwavering support for conducting well-controlled research to confirm a product response. In fact, the peer-review process is a means of demonstrating the quality of research employed by Zinpro. Our team of scientists begin with this end in mind. They design studies to have adequate replication in the species of interest to demonstrate consistent responses that will improve the profitability and sustainability of our customers’ businesses. Furthermore, Zinpro continues to conduct peer-reviewed research to demonstrate how and why our products work, drilling down to the cellular and gene level. We also conduct research with our industry and university partners to support and train the next generation of scientists and to support the industries we serve.  

Q. What value does peer-reviewed research bring to both customers and the industry?

A. An independent third-party validation clearly shows the value of our product to our customers. Well-designed and conducted research is a differentiator as it confirms repeatable responses that prove the value of Zinpro Performance Minerals® to our customers and the industries we serve. It gives our customers confidence in our products and provides value to the industry by improving animal protein production efficiency and animal well-being.

Q. Zinpro is known for products and business solutions that help to prevent and manage lameness – in what other ways does Zinpro help with animal wellness and performance?

A. While prevention of lameness is an important benefit of using Zinpro Performance Minerals® in cattle, swine, poultry, equine and companion animals, there are numerous benefits of our products.  We see research-proven benefits from the minerals fed to animals from our Performance Minerals (as part of a balanced diet) to increase protein production (meat, milk, and eggs), improve feed conversion and carcass quality, decrease morbidity and mortality and veterinary treatment, and improve animal health and well-being, to name a few. In addition to product benefits, we provide on-farm tools, services, and solutions to improve our customer’s business for long-term sustainability.

Q. One of the current trends in animal production is antibiotic-free diets – how do Performance Minerals® fit into that trend?

A. Antibiotic-free production of meat and eggs requires robust and intact surface barriers, such as the intestinal and skin linings as first structures of defense. Pathogens and toxins that penetrate surface barriers may lead to inflammation and call immune cells into action. Zinc, manganese and copper are essential for the aforementioned functions. Thus, providing sufficient amounts and highly available and metabolizable sources of Performance Minerals is an essential component of successful antibiotic-free production.

Q. What species-specific research does Zinpro have that proves its products are contributing to sustainability?

A. Zinpro Corporation began with the idea that improving trace mineral nutrition of livestock and poultry would result in improved animal performance. Our dedicated team of nutritional professionals at Zinpro has spent the past 45 years working to bring this concept to reality. Along the way, we have fine-tuned the trace mineral feeding of multiple species and built a significant research database, along with a portfolio of successful customer experiences.

One example of the recent knowledge leaps that we have made in trace mineral nutrition relates to our collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois, in the U.S. In brief, this specific body of work gives us an in-depth look at the impact of Zinpro Performance Minerals® on animal metabolism at the molecular level. When dairy cows were fed trace minerals in the form of Zinpro Performance Minerals prior to calving through 30 days post-calving, cows had increased yields of milk and milk protein. Altered gene expression helped mediate these effects, which appear to be related to improved antioxidant and inflammation status as well as liver and immune function. Feeding trace minerals in the form of Zinpro Performance Minerals to the cow also decreased oxidative stress in the calves during the postnatal period.

Quite simply, all our Performance Minerals have been research-proven to perform. We demonstrate the sustainability of our products either through enhanced highest biological efficacy to limit environmental concerns or through performance to improve profitability for the business enterprise, which allows our customers to be profitable and sustainable long-term. Again, it is important to recognize that a product with the highest biological efficacy does not necessarily equate to an increase in animal performance. Through our ongoing research on Performance Minerals, we are consistently showing improvements in mineral biological efficacy and in animal metabolism. The result is increased performance, which then contributes to greater sustainability.

For example, in replicated research across multiple livestock and poultry species, we have seen approximately a 2 to 4% improvement in feed efficiency when feeding trace minerals from Zinpro Performance Minerals at recommended rates as part of a well-balanced nutrition program. If we use a figure of 400 million metric tons of feed produced globally on an annual basis, for poultry only, this would indicate a saving in feed of 8 million to 16 million metric tons on an annual basis. This definitely has sustainability implications as well as the ability to enhance our impact on feeding the growing global population.

In multiple species and in multiple studies, we have seen statistically significant reductions in morbidity, mortality, and veterinary treatment required when feeding a well-balanced nutritional diet that includes Zinpro Performance Minerals at recommended rates. These improved outcomes contribute to improved performance responses and to improved animal well-being and sustainability.