Replacing zinc in pig production

There is not one single product that can replace the current use of Zinc Oxide. A ZnO free pig production requires improvements in many fields that include farm management, biosecurity, genetics, the health status of the pig and diet composition. Fiber can become a vital part of ZnO free piglet diets.

Erik Visser
Hamlet Protein

Even though the ban on pharmaceutical use of Zinc Oxide has so far only been announced in the European Union, there is an increasing interest for fiber all over the world.

Producers are targeting a reduction in medication in young animal nutrition, driven by government regulations and consumer preferences. That results in increased demand for highly digestible ingredients. These trends will not only generate an interest in fiber products but will also increase the demand for quality protein as Zinc Oxide free diets will require highly digestible ingredients that are low in anti-nutritional factors (ANF).

Eliminating Zinc Oxide from the diet can easily be done by lowering the protein content in the formulation. The challenge however is to maintain the current level of high performance, in terms of growth, feed conversion and uniformity, whilst eliminating the Zinc Oxide without the increased use of other medication. This is where highly digestible proteins are increasingly relevant.

Ever since the European Union announced the upcoming ban on ZnO in June 2017, the R&D team at Hamlet Protein has been working to develop a product that could be introduced alongside our protein portfolio. Different concepts and formulations have been researched and tested, leading to new fiber solutions.

Hamlet Protein introduced HP FiberStart in 2019 and will launch HP FiberBoost in Europe in August 2021. The introduction of fiber as a functional ingredient to stimulate the gut and ease the transition at weaning forms part of Hamlet Protein’s strategy to help pig producers to transition to Zinc Oxide free diets.

Trial work on piglet performance day 0-14 post-weaning show that HP FiberBoost resulted in 7% higher growth and a 6% improvement on FCR when compared to a diet without functional fibers.

Analyses of the effect of HP FiberBoost on the production of butyric acid and protein fermentation products in the colon of piglets showed that HP FiberBoost increased the concentration of butyric acid in the colon by 23% and decreased the concentration of branched-chain fatty acids, an indicator of protein fermentation, in the colon by 23.5% compared to the control (=no fiber added).

HP FiberBoost also reduced the concentration of indole in colon by 59% compared to the control, indicating that HP FiberBoost diminishes the production of harmful protein fermentation products.
We have seen new products and approaches being introduced in the past months, as companies try to position their solution in the market. Just like with antibiotics, we believe it is not as simple as replacing one product with another. Farm management, equipment, biosecurity, vaccines, and genetics all play an important role. We strongly believe and have seen that evidence in trial work and response from farmers, that HP FiberBoost, can be part of the solution when phasing out zinc oxide.

HP FiberBoost increases the natural butyric acid production in the gut substantially. It has a high share of insoluble fiber, low viscosity, targeting young animals specifically. HP FiberBoost holds the highest amount of prebiotic carbohydrates in the market and is second to none in this matter.

Taking out ZnO is one thing. Delivering a consistent and high performance without it another. Hamlet Protein has been a leading expert in piglet nutrition for more than 25 years. Building on expertise with vegetable proteins, on-farm insights and network and now adding HP FiberBoost to our portfolio, we are confident about our ability to continue delivering value to pig producers.

Replacing medication in diets requires a multifaceted approach as outlined before. We believe we can contribute to creating a solution for producers but are clear that there are many more factors that determine the success of our customers.