Removing zinc oxide from pig diets

The use of zinc oxide as a medicinal feed additive will be banned from June 2022. What can you do to prepare? 

How does zinc oxide affect the gut health of pigs?

Zinc oxide has been used for many years in the pig industry to reduce diarrhoea in post-weaned pigs. However, as a result of potential risks to the environment and in line with regulations set by the European Union (EU), therapeutic use of zinc oxide will be banned in June 2022. 

A pig with a well-developed gut is less likely to suffer from post-weaning complications, such as diarrhoea. Reduced post-weaning dips in daily liveweight gain (DLWG) is also reported in piglets with a well-developed gut.  

Practical solutions to manage without zinc oxide

There is no single solution to mitigate the impact of removing zinc oxide from piglet diets. However, iyou can optimise gut health, maintain good biosecurity and manage colostrum effectively, then it is possible to manage the removal of zinc effectively.  

To ensure maximum impact, any mitigations must be made in well-managed environments, with good levels of: 

Any interventions should be made in conjunction with your farm vet and nutritionist.  

Diagram describing the processes that support good gut health – biosecurity, health management and colostrum management.

Inert fibres

Inert fibres are added to animal feeds with the specific function of improving gut health. Find out how they do this and what you should consider before using them. 

Find out more about inert fibres

Acidification (of feed and water) and fermentation

Acidification and fermentation can be used to reduce or control the disease-causing microbes that enter pigs guts through feed and water. To use these techniques on farm, you will need to make substantial investments.  

This information will provide you with an oversight of the required technology, case studies and key areas to consider. 

Learn more about acidification (of feed and water) and fermentation

Feed additives

Alternative feed additives that support the post-weaning transition are available from a range of suppliers. Here we provide some case studies and key areas to consider.

Read about additives that support gut health

Reducing crude protein

Altering the levels of certain nutrients can reduce stress on the developing pig gut. Research suggests that reducing crude protein levels in weaner diets can lower the degree of post-weaning drops in performance.

All nutrition decisions should be made with a qualified nutritionist.

Useful links

Find more information on appropriate nutrition for all pigs

Find more information on the nutrition for the weaned pig

Explore research into reduced crude protein diets (NUTWEAN)