Zinc Oxide alternatives

Editor PigProgress
Zinc oxide is indeed a fine ingredient. It would hardly be an overstatement to say that without zinc oxide to control post-weaning diarrheas, the recent ban on antibiotics might have not been so successful in many countries. Yet, zinc oxide is currently under severe regulation and it is practically banned in many places around the globe, with more to follow suit soon.

So, we need an alternative to it, and we need it now! In my experience, non-zinc compounds, such as acids, probiotics, essential oils, etc., might have a merit of their own but they have not been able to fully and truly replace zinc oxide. So, we’re left with zinc-containing compounds as the only potential true replacements.
Here the story is a bit unclear too. Certainly, we have claims that organic zinc, tetra-basic zinc chloride, protected zinc oxide, nanozinc oxide, and enhanced surface zinc oxide can replace the traditional form of zinc oxide. I have had considerable experiences with some of them, and of course, with zinc oxide.
I would be interested to know your thoughts on these zinc-containing compounds and any others you might know of being of help in replacing zinc oxide!


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    Frederic PELENC

    I think we have good ZnO alternative. In fact with a synbiotic and other probiotic action as program we can act successfully. But even if those program are cheaper than antibiotic they are more expensive than ZnO but very helpfull for environment.

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    Marcelo Mosquera

    Good morning.

    Not completely related to the article but a question about zinc oxide. Do you have experience if the use of zinc oxide may have a negative effect on feed intake in piglets? If yes at what level?


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    Graham Baker

    We have done some work with a feed additive containing a specially treated zinc combined with fermented soybean meal that has proven very effective in piglets and weaned pigs, particularly in cases where post-weaning diarrhea has been a problem. This product gives 150mg/kg of zinc but appears to be giving the same effect as when 3kg per ton is included.

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    A comprehensive study (Roselli et al, J Nutr 2003; 133: 4077-4082)shows the non-antibiotic mode of action of zinc-oxide in the piglet's gut and its anti-secretory properties. It is a fact related to quantity (and type of salt) of the drug, and is the reason for which the various "alternatives" sometimes seem promising, but when placed in hard, field conditions, in most of the cases fail. Neverthless, never say never.

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    Dr Nikolaos Kotrotsios

    I would like one more time to emphasize on that critical point in the piglets nutrition. In order to prevent diarrhea or poor performance, it's becoming obligatory using some feed additives. However, due to concerns about residues in meat and the potential for development of microbial resistance to antibiotics, government agencies in many pig-producing countries are considering implementation of a complete ban in the use of antibiotics in animal feeds. High levels of zinc in the form of zinc oxide (ZnO) are commonly added to nursery pig diets because they improve performance and reduce the incidence of diarrhea after weaning. However, a concern with feeding pharmacological levels of ZnO to pigs is that application of manure containing high levels of ZnO to agricultural lands has the potential to negatively impact the environment.Also we must note that zinc (from any source) causes toxicity when fed at levels exceeding 1000 ppm Zn for long periods of time.Therefore, it would be desirable if the beneficial effects of feeding ZnO could be obtained at lower levels of supplementation, or if alternative growth promoters could be developed. The addition of physical growth promoters to enhance the performance parameters of fattening animals, don�t present satisfiable results. Recent studies is that the addition of herbal substances, chain fatty acids, dietary organic acids, in-feed enzymes, probiotic microbial cultures, flavour enhancers, couldn�t replace the action of antibiotics. Should additions also be able to prevent a frank outbreak of disease. Instead of that, the last years, is the increasing number of antibiotics subscriptions.
    So, I agree with you that we need an alternative to it but it�s not yet available. Probably,I hope in the near future to have some new exciting additives achieving the challenge targets.

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    Lianqiang (Chet) Che

    The nanometer ZnO could be used to substitute normal ZnO at a much lower level for preventing postweaning diahrrea et al., but long term addition to diet is not encouraged.

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