What is the impact of zinc in late-gestation diets?

Image by Tim McReynolds from Pixabay

Our colleagues in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural resource Sciences (CFANS) have shared one of their latest projects with the National Hog Farmer readers. They found that adding higher amounts of zinc in the late-gestation diet of sows in both a research and commercial herd increased the survival of smaller piglets until they are weaned.

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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.