AHDB: Multifactorial approach tailored to each farm needed for effective removal of ZnO from pig diets

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Nicola Ferrari
© GettyImages/Nicola Ferrari

Related tags Zinc oxide piglet

There is no single solution to mitigate the impact of removing zinc oxide from piglet diets. However, if a producer can optimize gut health, maintain good biosecurity, and support colostrum delivery, then it is possible to manage the removal of zinc effectively, according to the AHDB.

Zinc Oxide (ZnO) has been used for many years in the pig sector in both the UK and the EU to reduce diarrhea in post-weaned pigs. However, as a result of potential risks to the environment and regulations set by the EU, the therapeutic use of ZnO in pig diets was banned from the summer 2022. 

The European Commission’s Implementing Decision on Zinc Oxide in 2017 formed part of retained EU law, post Brexit. The UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) granted an extension however, allowing the industry to use up any product purchased before its shelf-life expired.

Predictions were that supplies of ZnO would be exhausted this summer. “We do anticipate that, in the near future, stocks will run out and that we won’t be able to use ZnO anymore,” said Dr Charlotte Evans, head of engagement (pork), at AHDB.

Collaboration is key 

While there is no direct alternative to replace ZnO, producers should already have been collaborating with their vets, staff, and nutrition providers in terms of the relevant action and mitigation plans, she said.

“The feed industry has known this has been coming for quite a long time and, of course, for those companies that operate in different EU countries, they will have had some experience in ZnO removal; they have already gone through the process,” she told FeedNavigator.

Evans said approaches such as getting piglets to take solid feed sooner, being consistent with feed changes, and focusing on more fundamentals in feed management are expected to help.

AHDB recently published a review of the research​ in relation to effective ZnO removal strategies, targeting pig nutrition, management, and immunity. The summaries are aimed at helping farmers, their vets, and nutritionists as they navigate the changes. 

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