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‘Program Zero ZnO’, Phileo by Lesaffre’s Approach to Feeding Piglets Without Zinc Oxide - INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: Phileo by Lesaffre via Feedinfo

21 October 2021 - Use of zinc oxide (ZnO) as a veterinary medicinal product, which can be defined as levels above 150 parts per million (ppm), will be banned in the European Union (EU) starting June 2022. The EU ban was put into motion because of concerns about heavy metal accumulation in the environment and the potential for antimicrobial resistance. The EU has imposed a ban, and more and more countries around the globe are concerned about the negative impact of ZnO on the environment.

However, zinc is an essential part of swine diets, especially in the first few weeks after weaning to help control post-weaning diarrhoea and improving gut performance. Piglets require around 100 ppm in their diet due to the involvement of zinc in various enzymes, immunity and nutrient metabolism. Zinc also contains antimicrobial properties and can help increase feed intake.

Several nutritional approaches without the use of ZnO to potentially reduce the incidence of post-weaning diarrhoea exist, and weaning piglets without ZnO is entirely possible, though measures should be taken to prevent antibiotic usage to increase.

Today, Phileo by Lesaffre explain their nutritional strategy. Wouter de Bruin, Western Europe Manager Swine, and Niels Poulsen, Central & Eastern Europe Manager Swine provide their views on the subject.

[Feedinfo] We know that there is no single strategy to replace pharmacological levels of ZnO in early nursery diets. What are Phileo by Lesaffre’s recommendations?

[Wouter de Bruin] At the base of the transition to zero zinc oxide we need to redesign piglet feed formulation around weaning. This means reducing crude protein levels and increasing fermentable fibre fraction. In my opinion the focus here should be optimal development of the digestive system rather than maximum performance. To be more specific, investing in a healthy microbiome, limiting pathogen pressure and ensuring feed intake are at the core of efficient production of pigs without the need for therapeutic zinc oxide or antibiotics.

Wouter de Bruin
Western Europe Manager Swine
Phileo by Lesaffre

Niels Poulsen
Central & Eastern Europe Manager Swine
Phileo by Lesaffre

[Niels Poulsen] It is important to pay attention to management practises. For example, starting at birth, ensure high quality piglets by revising the sows’ nutritional strategies. Frequent supplementation of fresh feed to all piglets before weaning also contributes to successful weaning. And, properly cleaned, dried and pre-heated housing for newly weaned piglets can make a difference too.

[Feedinfo] In some countries, ZnO has already been out of the market for a few years now, like in the Netherlands and France. What kind of experience has Phileo by Lesaffre gained from this market?

[Wouter de Bruin] The EU countries that have been producing without therapeutic zinc oxide in piglets’ diets are the proof that it is indeed possible to do so without losing production efficiency and without increasing antibiotics. In these countries we have seen that there is no single bullet that can replace zinc oxide. A more holistic approach is required looking at management, nutrition, and animal health. Therefore, Phileo by Lesaffre has designed ‘Program Zero ZnO’ addressing those topics. Over the past years we have contributed to successful elimination of zinc oxide while reducing the use of antibiotics.

[Feedinfo] Can you give an overview of your ‘Program Zero ZnO’?

[Niels Poulsen] There are three pillars in the program which address nutritional and health challenges. First, strengthening the microbiome by creating an environment that favours beneficial bacteria, strengthening the microbial balance to reduce the risk of digestive disorders, and reducing the microbial variation between piglets to achieve uniform piglets. Second, reducing pathogen pressure by preventing pathogens from adhering to the gut wall by binding to our yeast solutions, limiting shedding of pathogens, and reducing the risk of inflammation and diarrhoea. Third, enhancing feed intake. The sow’s milk is rich in glutamic acid and has a strong umami flavour. Maintaining similar taste and flavour in piglet feed helps to increase intake.

Phileo by Lesaffre has included three different solutions in ‘Program Zero ZnO’ in order to address these pillars: Actisaf®, Safmannan® and Prosaf®. Next to our program, we still strongly recommend a review of management practices.

[Feedinfo] How complementary Actisaf® and Safmannan® & Prosaf® in your multi-stage approach?

[Wouter de Bruin] They are different types of yeast products: Actisaf® is a yeast probiotic, Safmannan® is a yeast postbiotic, and Prosaf® is a functional yeast extract. Actisaf® improves microbial population to benefit the piglet’s health and feed efficiency by enhancing the environment in the hind gut. Safmannan® reduces pathogen pressure to prevent digestive disorders by binding bacteria such as E. coli. At the same time, Safmannan® reduces the negative impact of inflammation on piglet’s performance. Prosaf®, rich in glutamic acid, stimulates early feed intake. The high digestible amino acids present in free form of small size biopeptides ensure high digestibility allowing reduced crude protein levels in the feed. The presence of nucleic acids helps with the development of young piglets’ digestive tract. These different types of yeast-based products each have their own recommended inclusion rates. For Actisaf® we recommend using 1.0kg/ton of complete feed in all piglet’s diets and for Safmannan® we recommend an inclusion rate of 0.5kg/ton of complete feed until 14 days after weaning. Prosaf® has a recommended inclusion rate of 1-2% in creep feed and pre-starter diets.

[Feedinfo] With the experience you describe here, what is the impact of eliminating zinc oxide from piglets’ diets on the performance of pigs until slaughter?

[Niels Poulsen] By investing in proper development of the intestinal tract and microbiome of piglets, we often see that at the age of about 70 days, piglets on Phileo’s ‘Program Zero ZnO’ outperform the piglets supplemented with therapeutic zinc oxide in terms of average daily gain. Recently, a trial was conducted at a research facility in Denmark with a control group supplemented with 3.100ppm of zinc oxide for the first 14 days after weaning while the treatment group received 1.0kg Actisaf® per ton of complete feed for the entire rearing period and 0.5kg Safmannan® per ton of complete feed for the first two weeks after weaning. The average daily gain of piglets receiving therapeutic zinc oxide was similar to those piglets which received solutions from ‘Program Zero ZnO’. Particularly in the last stage of the nursery, the piglets receiving ‘Program Zero ZnO’ had a higher daily weight gain compared to the piglets receiving zinc oxide. This suggests that the life performance of pigs increases as it is well known that higher daily gain during the nursery stages positively impacts the performance of growing/finishing pigs.

Published in association with Phileo by Lesaffre