Therapeutic zinc in piglet production is a thing of the past

Zinc-free feeding - weaning piglets without zinc

We’re sorry but, in our opinion, there is not a comparable 1:1 replacement for zinc. But please don’t despair, there is better news: Good solutions are being developed and phasing zinc out will be possible in a sensible way. 

For some time, we have researched and collaborated with farmers and a number of universities to find zinc-free solutions. We have some preliminary results, which show us that it can be solved when we consider feeding, care and management collectively, and if we approach it a little differently than today. We need to work together with the pig, rather than having a safety net under it.


Zinc-free feeding - are you ready?

After June 2022, therapeutic zinc inclusion in piglet feed is banned. Zinc-free feeding will be a challenge throughout the EU as legislation is changed. Are you ready for zinc-free feeding?

Why can’t I feed therapeutic zinc?

Therapeutic zinc for animals requires a prescription. Until now, it has been used to prevent diarrhoea in piglets that have been weaned. However, there are concerns about the long-term impact of zinc oxide on the environment. That is why the EU Scientific Committee on Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP) recommended at a meeting on 6-8 December, 2020 that all medicines containing therapeutic zinc for piglets should be withdrawn from the market.

In addition, there has also been a concern that the added zinc may pose a risk of developing antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals. These two reasons are the main ones that determine, after June 2022, that it is not permitted to use therapeutic zinc for the prevention of weaning diarrhoea.

The AB Neo approach to zinc-free feeding

At AB Neo, we are standing by 4 key promises in our commitment to you, our customers:

Proven production solutions through R&D Excellence

Our goal is to become an international leader in nutrition for young, farmed animals, so excellence in research and product development is essential.  As a joined up group, we will continue to work with our current university partners, securing access to some of the best brains and ideas from beyond our organisation.  We will also construct our own ‘Centre of Excellence’ research farm in Spain – a-state-of-the-art facility capable of generating huge volumes of statistically strong data which we will share with our global customer base.

We will be proud that all the products we take to market are based on science, are well proven and will deliver value on farm.

Dedicated customer support

We understand our customer’s needs and will ensure we have the depth of experience and expertise to be able to deliver the right solution at the right time.  From our highly qualified technical nutritional support team, including nutritionists, vets and on-farm technical to our experienced commercial team, we will ensure we react quickly to support local needs.

We will continue to innovate and develop, we will manufacture products of the highest quality in accordance with 5 different quality accreditations and we will use the latest technology, such as NIR scanning, to guarantee feed quality.

Focused nutritional intervention

To boost efficient, sustainable pig production, we will continue to grow our range of natural, sustainable nutritional supplements that complement existing nutritional programmes and support pig performance at the critical stages in the production cycle.

Our Adicare range is geared for the pre-partum sow to support the stressful farrowing process and ensure optimal piglet vigour at birth ;  through to supporting the challenges of digestive disturbances  pre and post weaning with Adicare Balance and boosting feed intakes post weaning of low weight piglets with Adicare Piglet Force.

Optimising pre-weaning development

Our emphasis on accelerating the piglet’s gut maturation and creating a diverse and robust intestinal microbiota reduces stress on the piglet’s immune system and, therefore, creates less of a challenge to the piglet’s overall health status.  

We will continue to innovate and develop products and solutions that give piglets the best start.  For example, our sophisticated milk supplement portfolio, DanMilk, and the Pump’n’Grow milk system improves the health of each litter from day 1 in the farrowing house, increasing intakes and strengthening the pigs to get them through the critical post-weaning phase.

What is the difference between zinc for piglets?

It is important to know that two types of zinc are used for piglets - and it is the therapeutic zinc that is banned from use after June 2022.

What is therapeutic zinc?

Therapeutic zinc is a drug that is prescribed by veterinarians. It is typically added up to a maximum of 2500 ppm/kg feed to control weaning diarrhoea in piglets and this will no longer be possible.

What is mineral zinc?

Mineral zinc is a mineral that is added to the feed up to a maximum of 150 ppm/kg. The pigs need zinc to grow, and will still be legal to use mineral zinc.

Why does it become a challenge for pig producers to wean the piglets?

There are 3 major challenges you, as a pig producer, will face when it is no longer permitted to use therapeutic zinc for your piglets.

Increased diarrhoea frequency

Until now, we have used zinc to prevent weaning diarrhoea in piglets. It typically occurs in the transition from drinking the sow's milk to being given feed. Therefore, a bridge must be built in some other way between the two scenarios for pigs, so that there is an economically and professionally sound transition.

Declining productivity

Many solutions have been tried and tested to meet the requirement for zinc-free feeding. For example, the amount of protein inclusion has been investigated. When there is less protein in the feed, it has a positive effect on weaning diarrhoea, but it has a negative effect on productivity.

Increased production costs

If the piglets become sick from weaning diarrhoea and if productivity decreases, it means as a producer it costs more to get the pigs to slaughter weight. Therefore, focus must be on management protocols adapted to each individual production unit in order to meet the new zinc-free requirements in the most optimal way.

Welcome to zinc-free piglet production

As a pig producer, it can be difficult to see the positives, but the law has been passed, so the right thing to do is prepare as best you can for the new situation. It requires proper composition of your feed, uniformity in your feed, stability in caring for the pigs as well as adapting management.

Researchers and advisers in AB Neo have been working intensively, developing solutions that make it possible to phase out therapeutic zinc without adversely affecting the welfare of the pigs.

It is also important that the consumption of antibiotics is kept low and responsible, just as it is of course also important that the new solutions are financially reasonable for you as a pig producer.