Hamlet Protein looks to fiber as zinc alternative

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

Christina Brødkner explains research into zinc oxide alternatives © Hamlet Protein
Christina Brødkner explains research into zinc oxide alternatives © Hamlet Protein

Related tags swine Zinc oxide fiber

The hunt is on to find an alternative to zinc oxide in young pig diets given regulatory developments in the EU and China, Danish company Hamlet Protein, in that context, is looking at the use of fiber additives in feed.

The European Union (EU) will ban the use of zinc oxide in feed for weaned pigs starting in June 2022 to address the negative environmental effect from using the additive, while in July 2018, China restricted the use of ZnO to 1600 ppm in the first two weeks post-weaning.  

Zinc oxide alternatives webinar

FeedNavigator is hosting a webinar – Weaning without zinc oxide​ – on July 11. Our speaker panel includes Lisbeth Shooter from the Danish pig research center, SEGES; Charlotte Lauridsen from Aarhus University in Denmark; and Alfons Jansman from WUR in the Netherlands. Be sure to take part: register for the free online program here​.

Hamlet Protein announced last week that it is developing a fiber-based feed additive to provide an alternative to zinc oxide (ZnO) use in young pig diets. The company shared information about the research and development of the upcoming product during the Zero Zinc Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Building on its work with soy-based protein additives, the Denmark-headquartered feed ingredient company has a leading position in the swine production industry, said Erik Visser, Hamlet Protein CEO. However, Hamlet is also exploring ways to address new or ongoing challenges producers face.

“Because of the negative aspects of ZnO usage, and restrictions on its use, producers have been looking for suitable replacements,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “With the ban going into effect in Europe in 2022, the need for alternative strategies has become more urgent.”

Swine producers need “effective alternatives” ​to help them address challenges like piglet diarrhea, said Visser. 

“Hamlet decided to invest in the development of FiberStart to provide such an alternative strategy.”

“FiberStart is aimed at solidifying our relationships in the swine industry,”​ he added.

Development of the feed additive also is expected to increase the company’s “market penetration” ​along with its market potential and portfolio.

Developing a zinc alternative

Zinc oxide has been a tool that swine producers used to control post-weaning diarrhea, said Visser. 

“Just like the restriction on use of antibiotics, the reduction/elimination of ZnO from the diet is an example of how consumer concerns and regulatory controls continue to make the traditional tools to combat bacterial diseases in animal production less available.”

The initial market for the product will be Denmark, and early feedback has been positive, he said. The company also has already started to see an increase in product inquiries from other countries.

The fiber additive is expected to be launched in Denmark in the second half of 2019, Hamlet said. Its market is then set to expand into other countries.

Interest in developing a ZnO alternative that could support piglet development prompted Hamlet to look at the use of dietary fiber, said the company. The product is intended to be used in initial post-weaning diets.

“Fiber ingredients are interesting because of their physico-chemical effects to stimulate gut function and development to secure healthy animals,”​ said Christina Brødkner, research and development manager with Hamlet Protein.

The fiber additive can be balanced into a complete ration for feeding phases until piglets reach 30kg, she added.

The additive includes soluble and insoluble fibers to provide a “dual effect”​ – engaging the gut physically and stimulating microflora through the fermentation of select fiber, she said.

In feeding trials, a reduction in diarrhea incidents has been noted along with maintained piglet performance without the use of antibiotics, she said.  

Other company actions

In addition to developing zinc alternatives, Hamlet recently hosted a delegation from China at its facility in Denmark.

Swine producers in China face challenges from the ongoing outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) and changing regulations related to the use of antibiotics in production, the company said.

The group of scientists and industry professionals discussed nutrition and health related to swine feed formulation.

“We appreciate the opportunity to actively interact with producers and share experiences across markets,” ​said Visser. “Bringing Danish feed and protein producers together with Chinese industry professionals and academics helps with the mutual understanding of how to address global challenges in local markets.”

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