Science Page: High levels of dietary zinc under a cloud

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

The addition of zinc in pig’s diet had been a common way to fight against enteric issues at weaning without using antimicrobial in some European countries whereas its use was prohibited in others. Earlier this month, the European Union decided to homogenize practices over the continent by banning the use of high levels of zinc in the diet over environmental and antimicrobial resistance concerns. This new legislation will be implemented progressively over 5 years.

Key points from this week edition:

  • High level (2,500 – 3,000ppm) zinc use (HZU) in feed for 1 to 2 weeks post weaning to counter enteric disease is perhaps the most widely adopted alternative to antibiotic use in pig production globally.
  • The European Union just announced a ban on HZU in piglet feed, to be phased in over 5 years
  • Banning of an effective and widely adopted alternative to antibiotics, at least in part due to perceived concerns about coselection of resistant bacteria, adds another layer of complexity to the development and validation of all interventions to replace antibiotics in food animal production.

Read Dr. Peter Davies’ explanation of the reasons behind this ban.

Survival of porcine coronaviruses in feed ingredients and impact of feed additives

A lot of research has been done at the University of Minnesota regarding the survival of porcine coronaviruses in the feed and how to impact their survival. We are presenting today two papers published this spring looking at this important topic. First, Trudeau et al. showed that the feed ingredient which lead to the longest porcine coronaviruses’ survivability was soybean meal. Then, Cottingim et al. showed that some feed additives could inactivate PDCoV.

Importance of porcine coronaviruses and their relationship to swine feed

Porcine coronaviruses of importance in the swine industry nowadays are Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDV), Transmissible Gastroentiritis virus (TGEV), and Porcine Delta Coronavirus (PDCoV). All cause enteric issues in swine and some can lead to up to 100% mortality in nursing piglets. The role of feed ingredients in spreading PEDV and causing outbreaks in Northern America in 2013 has been questioned since then.

Survival of PEDV, TGEV, and PDCoV in complete feed and feed ingredients

The first research project evaluated the persistence of PEDV, TGEV, and PDCoV in porcine feed and feed ingredients. To do so, complete feed and major feed ingredients samples (spray dried porcine plasma, meat meal, meat and bone meal, blood meal, corn,
soybean meal, and corn dried distillers grains with solubles) where inoculated with PEDV, TGEV, or PDCoV and kept for up to 56 days. Aliquots were tested 11 times between the inoculation day and the end of the trial. Time necessary to reduce the viral concentration by 1 log was recorded.

Soybean meal took the longest time to attain the reduction in concentration for all of the coronaviruses, reaching 7.5 days for PEDV, and 42 days for both PDCoV and TGEV. This study also demonstrated that there was a modest positive correlation between moisture content and persistence of TGEV and PDCoV. On the other end, there was a moderate negative correlation between ether extract content and TGEV survival, not observed with the other two viruses.

Click on the banner below to access the full article in open access.

Trudeau coronavirus feed swine survival PED

Feed additives and PDCoV survival

In this second project, the survival of PDCoV was evaluated after being put in contact with nursery feed samples containing one of six different commercial feed acids (UltraAcid P, Activate DA, KEMGEST, Acid Booster, Luprosil, and Amasil), salt, or sugar. Acids were added following the recommended concentrations in the first part of the experiment and then, were double-dosed. Feed samples were inoculated with PDCoV and kept for up to 35 days. Like in the previous article, days to achieve a reduction of virus concentration by 1 log were recorded.

At recommended values, there was no difference between viral load reduction in feed samples with or without additives. When acids were added to the feed at a double concentration, the time period to attain the reduction in viral load was decreased to 0.28 days or less for all acids except for Amasil which increased it to 4.95 days (control: 0.35 days). The difference between acidifiers may be explained by the active ingredients used in the products. Furthermore, the addition of salt decreased PDCoV survival whereas sugar increased it.

Click on the banner below to access the full article in open access.

Cottingim feed additives survival PDCoV coronavirus swine


Effect of different treatments on the inactivation of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) in swine feed

Last Friday, a team of UMN swine nutritionists and veterinarians published the results of their research on the effect of thermal treatments and additives on the inactivation and survival of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) in swine feed. They concluded that both the addition of feed additives and thermal treatments decreased PEDv load in the feed.


Fig 1. Inactivation of PEDV in complete feed when exposed to thermal processing.
The inactivation curves determined by the Weibull model for the survival of PEDV in complete feed at 120°C, 130°C, 140°C, and 145°C.


Abstract: Infection with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) causes diarrhea, vomiting, and high mortality in suckling pigs. Contaminated feed has been suggested as a vehicle of transmission for PEDV. The objective of this study was to compare thermal and electron beam processing, and the inclusion of feed additives on the inactivation of PEDV in feed. Feed samples were spiked with PEDV and then heated to 120–145°C for up to 30 min or irradiated at 0–50 kGy. Another set of feed samples spiked with PEDV and mixed with Ultracid P (Nutriad), Activate DA (Novus International), KEM-GEST (Kemin Agrifood), Acid Booster (Agri-Nutrition), sugar or salt was incubated at room temperature (~25°C) for up to 21 days. At the end of incubation, the virus titers were determined by inoculation of Vero-81 cells and the virus inactivation kinetics were modeled using the Weibull distribution model. The Weibull kinetic parameter delta represented the time or eBeam dose required to reduce virus concentration by 1 log. For thermal processing, delta values ranged from 16.52 min at 120°C to 1.30 min at 145°C. For eBeam processing, a target dose of 50 kGy reduced PEDV concentration by 3 log. All additives tested were effective in reducing the survival of PEDV when compared with the control sample (delta = 17.23 days). Activate DA (0.81) and KEM-GEST (3.28) produced the fastest inactivation. In conclusion, heating swine feed at temperatures over 130°C or eBeam processing of feed with a dose over 50 kGy are effective processing steps to reduce PEDV survival. Additionally, the inclusion of selected additives can decrease PEDV survivability.

Link to the full article