Denkapig - 28 February 2022

For a long time, providing zinc oxide in piglet diets was one of the ways to control diarrhoea-related problems in just-weaned piglets. The upcoming change in legislation, which puts a limitation on the use of zinc oxide, asks for a new way of thinking since there is no single additive which can effectively replace added zinc. Successfully replacing zinc oxide in piglet diets asks for a different way of working: management, housing, climate, and animal health status, it all plays a role. In this article, we will focus on the role of feed and Denkavit’s alternative to zinc oxide.

EU-ban on the extended dosage of zinc oxide in piglet diets

Starting in June 2022, the use of extended levels of zinc oxide as a veterinary medicinal product (above the legal limit of 150 ppm of zinc from zinc oxide or other sources) in piglet diets will be banned in the European Union. In some countries in Europe, this was already earlier implemented. Also outside the EU (China, Korea, Canada) legislation gradually starts to shift in the direction of lower allowed levels of zinc as a feed additive.

How to successfully replace zinc oxide in piglet diets?

As mentioned before there is not one additive which successfully replaces added zinc oxide. Since zinc oxide is often used to control diarrhoea-related problems in just weaned piglets it’s key to wean healthy, vital, uniform litters with high weaning weights. However, Denkavit developed a concept to assist you in making the transition to replace antibiotics and zinc oxide.

Weaning process

Under natural circumstances, weaning is a gradual process in which piglets slowly switch from milk to dry feed. In current piglet production practice, however, piglets are weaned relatively early and abruptly, at times without having sufficiently adapted to consume and digest dry feed before weaning. This will lead to very challenging and stressful situations for just-weaned piglets. The preparation for a smooth transition around weaning starts already in the suckling period by maximizing feed intake before weaning.

Preparation for weaning starts in the suckling period

Feeding piglet milk

Feeding piglet milk is a good way to increase feed intake before weaning. Read more about the effects of feeding piglet milk in the suckling phase and the results after weaning.

Effects of feeding piglet milk 

Feeding prestarter

R&D trials performed at the Pig Farm, part of our DenkaFarm Innovation Centre, demonstrate that the application of creep feed is essential to prepare piglets for weaning. It leads to higher weaning weights and it more is important that the piglets keep eating after weaning. Research demonstrates that the feed intake in the first four days after weaning was significantly lower for the piglets that received no creep feed compared to the two groups that did receive creep feed. Piglets who received creep feed continued to show significantly higher growth after weaning and higher weaning weights at the start of the fattening period. In figure 1 you can see the trial results until day 63, group A was the group that received no starter whereas group B (Top Wean) and group C (Mellow Go) both received a luxurious prestarter.

Figure 1. Weight development of piglets receiving no creep feed or different types of creep feed
(Final weights corrected for the differences in birth weight).

Denkavit Safe Start Concept

Over the past decade, Denkavit has performed multiple trials to investigate the effect of a different approach to transition diets for piglets around weaning, developing our Denkapig Safe Start Concept, known as our Safe Concept, this approach is characterised by:

  • Based upon low crude protein formulation principles- selecting high-digestible protein sources
  • Very high quality and processing of major materials
  • Carefully selected package of functional additives

The Denkavit Safe Start Concept has been tested by the independent Schothorst Feed Research. In this trial, our concept is tested against a control group (no added zinc oxide) and a group with 2500 ppm zinc from extra added zinc oxide.
Trial results 

Zinc Smart, what does Denkavit provide?

The Denkavit Safe Start Concept assists farmers and feeds companies with a complete approach from birth until 25 – 30 kg body weight. Our concept includes both complete feeds as well as concentrates to support the farmer in rearing piglets without extra added zinc oxide. Our approach is based upon years of knowledge and is supported by tailor-made advice and formulation for your situation by our colleagues.

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