What works without zinc?

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Ahead of the upcoming ban on zinc supplementation in pigs, we have completed a rapid evidence assessment (REA) in conjunction with SAC Commercial Ltd. and the Pig Veterinary Society.

Zinc oxide (ZnO) is commonly used to reduce diarrhoea in post-weaned pigs. However, we’re now in a transition period after EU regulations stopped the production of zinc oxide for therapeutic use. Any remaining product that is within the supply chain is being used up, so producers, along with their vets and nutritionists, must adapt to managing post-weaning diarrhoea without it.

The review assesses how alternative practices – nutritional changes, management changes, and improving the immune status – impact levels of post-weaning diarrhoea, post-weaning mortality and growth rate.

A plethora of alternatives are out there. The aim of the research was to make sense of them and establish what might work for you on your farm.

Unsurprisingly, there is no single intervention that scores as highly on repeatability or reliability as the use of ZnO at therapeutic levels to control post-weaning diarrhoea. This highlights the need for a multifactorial approach tailored to each farm, where all parties (farmers, vets, nutritionists, advisors, etc.) are involved.

The final report and a return on investment calculator are available on the project page below. These provide a thorough review of the financial and time investments needed to convert or implement the alternative practices.

“This work provides a useful tool for the pork industry to navigate the loss of zinc oxide”, said Dr Bethan John, Animal Health and Welfare Scientist. “The summaries will guide producers, alongside their vets and nutritionists, on which alternative practices might be most appropriate for their system and circumstances.”

Listen to our podcast to learn more about the research and options available to you

Read more about the research

Find out more about removing zinc oxide from pig diets

Podcast: Removing zinc oxide from pig diets – what are the options?