Right start to a future without zinc

10-01-2022 | |
Trials show that it is possible to wean piglets without using zinc oxide and less antibiotics. Photo: Ton Hurks
Trials show that it is possible to wean piglets without using zinc oxide and less antibiotics. Photo: Ton Hurks

Increasing concern regarding the ecotoxicity has led to the decision to ban the use of therapeutic zinc in feed throughout the EU by June 26, 2022 at the latest.

As the EU member states may determine the length of the transition period, the end of the marketing authorisation varies from country to country. Nowadays, therapeutic zinc is already forbidden in some countries. This means that in these countries we supported our customers step by step and helped them to prepare themselves to switch to production without medicinal zinc. As a result of this we can share our field experience with our customers in the countries still facing this challenge. In addition to the challenge of eliminating zinc, there is another upcoming challenge: the new EU Regulations on the use of antibiotics that will come into effect from January 28, 2022. The main objective is the banning of the routine use of antibiotics and group treatments.

Good farrowing house management is vital

The farrowing house is important for a profitable and healthy production unit and is also the starting point of the ‘Aim-For-Zero programme’. Postma et al. 2016, emphasised the importance of good farm management, improved biosecurity, and optimised vaccination. This results in a significant 52% reduction in antibiotics from birth to slaughter.

Furthermore, low birth weights and low daily growth lead to reduced growth in later stages, which can result in significant economic losses. López-Vergé et al. concluded that the suckling and weaning periods are the most critical for growth retardation throughout the entire life of pigs. If piglets have enough colostrum intake and eat solid feed at an early stage, this effect is reduced. After all, a high colostrum intake has a stimulating effect on growth before and after weaning.

Safety first

Keeping piglets healthy is the most important thing. Providing a well-balanced creep feed before weaning will lead to a better adaptation to solid feed after weaning. The acid production in the piglets’ stomach is stimulated and there is better intestinal development, which ensures a better digestion of vegetable proteins and carbohydrates. This results in a lower risk of diarrhoea and better performance.

To respond to the post-weaning challenges, Earlyfeed offers Vitastart Zero, a nutritional solution that focusses on a safe start for piglets. Therefore, we selected specific inert and fermentable fibres, checked the acid-binding capacity, added specific energy sources for the gut microflora and paid close attention to protein digestibility.

The concept also includes the innovative solution Vitazero which combines the antibacterial effect of MCFAs, the proven antioxidant effect of polyphenols and the pathogen binding effect of specially selected functional fibres. At the same time, we continue to stimulate the feed intake which is vital to guarantee safety.

Looking forward to 2022!

The many positive field trials show that weaning without medicinal zinc oxide and less antibiotics is very feasible, provided that all the different aspects are managed correctly. With Earlyfeed, you can already anticipate the stricter EU legislation, with effective start date of 2022. With a sound management and the use of the right nutritional solutions such as Vitastart Zero you do not have to compromise on technical performance and the related economic results.


Delphine Van Zele – Product Manager Swine

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