Performance Trace Minerals Improve Gut Health Without High Levels of Zinc Oxide
Our industry continues to be challenged with the loss of technologies that have helped us improve pork production for many years. One of those resources is the use of pharmacological levels of zinc oxide – 2,000 ppm or higher – to reduce diarrhea in piglets. Beginning in June 2022, the use of zinc oxide at high levels will be banned across the European Union (EU). In France, the ban took effect in January 2021. So we, as an industry, must look for alternative methods to control and prevent bacterial infections in your herds.
Our expertise and commitment to producing responsibly raised pork have already led us to implement innovative solutions to this challenge. A few that we touched on in Part 2 of this series included:
- The addition of specific enzymes
- Reducing protein and balancing amino acids in feed
- Utilizing inert fiber
Another tactic that can help reduce bacterial infections and diarrhea in herds is to include zinc from Availa®Zn. It is more absorbable than inorganic sources, like zinc oxide, and has been proven to strengthen tight junctions and boost intestinal integrity in piglets. This allows you to reduce diarrhea in piglets even while supplementing with much lower levels of zinc.
Let’s look at some real-life situations where we saw these results.
Availa-Zn: Steady Performance and Improved Gut Health
Multiple studies have evaluated the effectiveness of Availa-Zn as part of a strategy to reduce the need for high levels of zinc oxide. On one farm in Denmark, a veterinarian did a similar comparison of pigs fed a high level of 2,500 ppm of zinc oxide, 100 ppm of zinc oxide and 250 ppm of zinc from Availa-Zn. As expected, the diet with the high levels of zinc oxide had the biggest impact, reducing diarrhea treatments by more than 80% compared with the diet with 100 ppm of zinc oxide. But the diet with Availa-Zn, even at levels just one-tenth of those in the high-level diet, reduced diarrhea treatments by 50% compared to the diet with 100 ppm of zinc oxide.
On another farm, piglets were provided a special feed formulation that included either zinc oxide at high (2,500 ppm) or low levels (100 ppm), or zinc from Availa-Zn at a low level (110 ppm). The pigs fed Availa-Zn experienced similar growth performance, feed conversion ratio and number of diarrhea treatments to diets containing pharmacological levels of zinc oxide.
These two situations show us that supplementing piglet diets with zinc from Availa-Zn can help reduce diarrhea and be an essential part of a complex solution to make high levels of zinc oxide unnecessary in pork production.
Prepare for the Ban with Alternate Solutions
The EU zinc oxide ban in 2022 could influence future regulations in other regions around the world. So pork producers like you must find new, innovative ways to reduce diarrhea in your piglets.
Diarrhea in piglets can be controlled with strict management and biosecurity protocols, proper cleaning procedures and appropriate environmental controls. However, even with all of those practices in place, we still need to improve herd health by preventing bacterial infections and enhancing immune competence through a good nutritional program that includes Zinpro Performance Minerals®.
Our industry continues to look for alternate ways to boost intestinal integrity and reduce the risk of diarrhea in piglets without the use of high levels of zinc oxide. It’s always a good idea to supplement zinc in your pig’s diet, but you’ll get the best boost with zinc from Availa-Zn.
To learn more about how zinc oxide regulations could affect your pork production operation and explore the value of Availa-Zn, reach out to your Zinpro representative today.