Aim For Zero as a collaborative success toward the ban of Zinc oxide in 2022

Modern swine production faces acceleration

Animal productions are facing an acceleration not anymore limited to the growth rate of pigs. Massive data produced by connected objects (e.g. sound recognition, accelerometers, …) require analysis using algorithm and artificial intelligence technologies (Halachmi et al., 2018). High-throughput sequencing generates massive databases used for instance to determine the core microbiota of the gut of pigs (Holman et al., 2017) and its consequences on gut health. Consequently, practical implementation becomes the new bottleneck. Welfare issues or meat scandals also spread faster via the social media without consideration for the bias or fakes in the messages. Last, regulation also reacts faster and with broader objectives of preserving environment and human health, the ban of therapeutic usages of Zinc oxide (ZnO) in 2022 being a challenging  opportunity for pig production in the EU.

Collaboration allows to cope with it

In such a context, the dogma of using black-boxed concepts to keep an advantage opens. Companies collaborate on specific topics by adding their forces to reach faster the final users. Together with ATR, we have worked intensively on a range of feed formulas that maintain gut health at weaning, sharing the objective of weaning pigs without pharmacological dosages of ZnO on an equal cost basis. With respect to the “Aim for zero” approach, experts of both companies worked on farm management, health and nutrition practices in the Danish context. This joint formulation efforts resulted in an innovative feed, respecting the local nutritional and managerial practices. It contains Vitazero, a product that maintains gut health in piglets around weaning by a 4-fold action: 1) Killing pathogenic bacteria using a patented association of medium chain fatty acids; 2) agglutinating pathogenic bacteria and 3) blocking toxins with a specific health fiber combination and 4) fortifying gut barrier and countering oxidative stress using a unique mixture of polyphenols. The resulting concept has been tested extensively in the Danish field with positive outcomes.

Better performances are reached without ZnO

In a trial involving 6,097 piglets (Danbred x Duroc), animals were followed from weaning at 7 kg till 25 kg of body weight. Performances of the 3,058 piglets fed pharmacological doses of ZnO during the past 5 months were compared to the 3,039 piglets fed the Vitazero-containing feed. Despite a starting weight of the piglets -4.0% versus the ZnO group, piglets fed the Vitazero concept outperformed the historical medicated feed, reaching a +1.1% higher body weight at the end of the (equal) growth period without impact on mortality rates. The 0.07 points of FCR saved increased profit per pig by 0.7€ (5.3 DKK) compared to the animals fed the diet containing therapeutical doses of ZnO.

A collaborative success

After the successful ban of antibiotic growth promotors during the last decade, pig sector will achieve in 2022 another step toward more sustainable production by banning high dosages of ZnO. As no silver bullet exists to replace ZnO, the successful collaboration confirms that pigs can be efficiently weaned without ZnO. By combining the global competences and products of Agrimprove and the local knowledge and capacities of ATR in the Danish market and Royal Agrifirm Group achieved another step of their “Better Together” strategy.

Table 1: Trial comparing Agrimprove and ATR formulation containing Vitazero with the use of Medicated Zinc oxide: performance results

ParametersVitazero dietMedicated ZnO diet
Animals (n)30393058
Initial body weight (kg)7.27.5
Final body weight (kg)26.726.4
Daily weight gain (g/d)507492
Growth period (d)38.438.4
Mortality (%)1.01.0
Daily feed intake (g/day)890900

Your Agrimprove Expert

Kobe Lannoo
Global lead swine