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How to Produce Robust Grow-Finish Pigs

4 minute read

As a pork producer, growing robust pigs in the grow-finish stage is probably one of your primary goals. But what is a robust pig? Robust pigs are those that can better cope with immune challenges and overcome them more quickly. This results in pigs that perform better, have less morbidity and require less antibiotic treatment, which will reduce the number of pig removals in your system.

When you remove a pig from the system before it goes to market, you are losing the value of all the inputs you’ve already put into the pig, such as feed, vaccinations, medications, time, etc. These direct costs will be absorbed by the remaining pigs that do go to market, ultimately raising your cost of overall production and lowering profitability. Additionally, there will be an opportunity cost, which is the cost of not being able to sell that pig. While the direct costs and opportunity costs vary depending on feed and pig prices around the world, we estimate that increasing pig removals by 1% raises the cost of production in the European Union by 1.80€ ($2.19 USD) per finished pig.

Improving robustness in your grow-finish pigs will reduce the number of removals and, therefore, will also increase your system profitability. Ensuring that your grow-finish pigs are receiving an adequate zinc supplementation is critical for improving robustness.

How Zinc Improves Health and Robustness

An important nutrient for improving health and producing robust pigs in the grow-finish stage is zinc, as it is critical to immune function. It helps maintain tight junctions, which prevent harmful bacteria from entering the gut while allowing nutrients to pass through for absorption. It also aids in the activation of immune cells, enabling the pig to mount a rapid and robust response to immune challenges. Pigs that perform better, especially during a challenge or stressor, will be more profitable because they will make it to finishing, and will require fewer human labor inputs for treatments, pulls, removals, etc.

Supplementing grow-finish pigs with zinc from Availa® Zn enables pigs to recover from challenges faster by producing more immune cells early on during the response. In addition, more pigs will produce antibodies that will protect them from future infection.

In a research summary including 5,300 grow-finish pigs, supplementing with Availa Zn resulted in a 1.3% reduction in pig removals compared to pigs fed other zinc sources. Using the financial model above, this would reduce the cost of production in the EU by 2.34€ ($2.84 USD) per finished pig.

Produce Robust Pigs with Zinc, Improve Your System Profitability

Grow-finish pig diets must contain 80 to 100 ppm of supplemental zinc, and we recommend that 50 ppm come from performance trace minerals. Supplemental zinc must be consumed daily because pigs maintain smaller stores of the rapidly available zinc than is needed to fight immune challenges.

When you produce robust pigs on your swine operation, you can reduce morbidity and mortality. This ultimately reduces the cost of production and improves your system profitability.

To learn more about producing robust pigs with Availa Zn, contact your Zinpro representative today.