No nutritional silver bullet for zinc oxide replacement in piglet diets

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages
In a published summary of the Zero Zinc Summit, held last month in Copenhagen in Denmark, a Danish animal nutrition consultant said there was a general agreement at the event that no single tool can replace medicinal zinc oxide.

Efficacy studies with various feed additives showed promising results; however, when compared with medicinal zinc oxide, they rarely offer the same ROI,”​ Steffen Hansen wrote in a piece published on LinkedIn Pulse​.

FeedNavigator is hosting a webinar, Weaning without zinc oxide​, on July 11. Our panel includes Alfons Jansman from WUR in the Netherlands, Charlotte Lauridsen from Aarhus University in Denmark and Lisbeth Shooter from the Danish pig research center, SEGES. Be sure to sign up for that: You can register for our free to access online event here​.

Some of the feed additives evaluated at the summit, which was organized by SEGES, the Danish pig research center, included probiotics, prebiotics, acidifiers, enzymes, macrophages and phytobiotics, he noted.

The two-day conference looked to determine how to phase out medicinal zinc oxide (ZnO) in post-weaning piglet diets without farmers increasing their reliance on therapeutic antibiotic treatments; speakers spoke about the challenges piglets face around weaning, which are often the result of an immature gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and immune system, stressed Hansen.

Many of the presentations during the event focused on diet composition, crude protein levels and digestibility, he said. There was also emphasis placed on the positive effects certain fibers may have in relation to diarrhea control.

Characterization of the microbiota

Several studies presented at the summit included characterization of the microbiota; the characterization techniques have developed rapidly during the last years, he said. “The impression, however, is that the interpretation and understanding of the impact of the microbial composition on diarrhea still needs a lot of further research," ​according to the consultant.

Indeed, there was a copious amount of data provided on diarrhea at the conference, said Hansen.

“However, so many different scoring systems were presented that it was difficult to get an impression of the actual levels…. When animal performance data are presented, like gain and feed conversion, it is straightforward to compare one study with another one. This is not the same when we talk about diarrhea. I hope that the scoring systems will be more aligned or standardized in the future.”

Along with other nutritionists, Hansen took part in an Animine sponsored workshop during the summit on how to reduce or eliminate the pharmacological dosage of zinc oxide in piglet diets. 

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