Feed additives

Background

Successful weaning without the use of ZnO

With 100 tons of zinc saved and 6.5 million pigs successfully weaned with Vitazero, part of the ‘Aim-4-Zero’ approach, Agrimprove are ready for the ZnO ban in 2022.

The recent (re-)emergence of global viral diseases such as African Swine Fever in Asia and Europe, dramatically impacting pig production and epidemy of Covid-19 in humans, leading to the lock-down of whole countries, reinforced the key role of protecting measures. In such contexts, prevention remains the first and permanent barrier for long-term protection of animals and humans, associated to other solutions such as vaccines when possible.

Agrimprove estimates that 6.5 million pigs were successfully weaned with the Vitazero concept. Photo: Shutterstock
Agrimprove estimates that 6.5 million pigs were successfully weaned with the Vitazero concept. Photo: Shutterstock

Ban on therapeutic use of ZnO in 2022

In pig production too, the European Union (EU) is conscious of the critical value of existing therapeutic arsenal is obvious with 2 successive measures to avoid emergence of antibiotic resistance. The ban on antibiotic growth promoters (AGP), because of the direct contribution to antibiotic resistance, entered in force in 2006. From 2022, therapeutic usages of Zinc Oxide (ZnO) will also be banned, for indirect but proven contribution to antibiotic resistance (Figure 1). The lessons learned are:

  1. prevention of diseases must be preferred toward curation and
  2. alternative solutions must be preferred to drugs whenever possible.

Figure 1- Prevalence of Tetracyclin-resistance genes along time (days) in the digestive tract of piglets fed low, medium or high doses of Zinc Oxide (ZnO) around weaning.

Successful weaning without the use of ZnO

Alternative to zinc

The ‘Aim-4-Zero’ approach launched by Agrimprove during Eurotier in 2018 englobes the fine-tuning of management, health and nutrition practices, combined with cross-fertilisation of expertise and the use of Vitazero innovative solutions. The well-known antibacterial action of Medium Chain Fatty Acids, the proven antioxidant action of plants’ polyphenols and the pathogen-binding action of the innovative health fibre combined in Vitazero altogether reduce the need for ZnO around weaning, with a big focus in EU countries, but to a larger extent reduce the dependency of pig producers toward chemical molecules around weaning worldwide.

After 18 months of use in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, the return on experience is very positive. Agrimprove estimates that 6.5 million pigs were successfully weaned with the Vitazero concept (Figure 2). The corresponding saving of 100 tons of zinc, contribute to the building of a responsible food chain for future generations.

Finding the right balance

One could object that this number remains low compared to the 150 million pig census in the EU end of 2019. But in a situation where stopping the use of medicated ZnO is not yet a full constraint but a matter of a proactive decision by the feed mills or pig producers, Agrimprove believes that the anticipation in finding the right feeding practices and the right natural solutions such as Vitazero are key to start the effective ban of ZnO in 2022 with already stabilised top performances of pigs at weaning.

References available on request

Author: Romain D’Inca, Product Manager Pigs, Nuscience