National Pig Association - The voice of the British pig industry

Pig World logo

Home > News > Coping without zinc - new research published by AHDB

Coping without zinc - new research published by AHDB

3rd Mar 2023 / By Alistair Driver

AHDB has published new research highlighting why a multifactorial approach will be needed by pig producers and vets to cope without the use of zinc oxide in piglets.

pig straw2The UK is currently in a transition period after new marketing authorisations of zinc oxide (ZnO), commonly used to reduce diarrhoea in post-weaned pigs, were banned from June 2022. The UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) granted an extension last year allowing any products on the market at the time to be used until their authorisation expires.

Remaining product is now being used up, with experts predicting supplies could run out altogether in the summer, meaning producers, along with their vets and nutritionists will need to adapt to managing post-weaning diarrhoea without it.

With this in mind, AHDB has completed a rapid evidence assessment (REA) in conjunction with SAC Commercial and the Pig Veterinary Society.

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,” said Animal Health and Welfare Scientist Bethan John

“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 HERE

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”, Dr John added. “The summaries will guide producers, alongside their vets and nutritionists, on which alternative practices might be most appropriate for their system and circumstances.”

  • You can find out more about removing zinc oxide from piglet diets HERE
  • Listen to AHDB’s podcast to learn more about the research and options available HERE