Beginning in 2022, pig producers in the European Union will no longer be allowed to include zinc oxide to prevent diarrhea in weanling pigs.
To counter potential problems in 2022, Vilomix — a specialist in customer-specific vitamin and mineral premixes — announced it has started a new project in cooperation with SEGES, the Danish Pig Research Center, in Denmark. The objective is to use the expertise of each organization to jointly find solutions to benefit all pig producers.
Vilomix has brought together a number of experts representing the areas pig producers will have to concentrate more on in the future. The cooperation consists of Vilomix, SEGES’s zinc advisory panel, selected farmers and their veterinarians, an announcement from the company said.
“We are starting off by using each other’s areas of expertise to be able to help pig producers enter into the most efficient transition period possible. Our objective is to find solutions that can ensure the lowest possible drop in production levels, when zinc oxide can no longer be used,” said Kristina Sørensen, product manager, pigs, at Vilomix.
No miracle cure
According to Vilomix, all participants of the new cooperation find it essential not to work in expectation of a one-to-one replacement for zinc oxide, as new challenges inevitably will arise for the pig producers.
“Zinc oxide is used to get pigs safely through weaning, but it also suppresses some of the other problems that can be present in the herd. We want to join forces with the producers to better understand the weaning problems that arise when removing zinc oxide. It’s important that they start working on the factors that are essential to succeeding right now, while they can still fall back on zinc oxide if needed,” Sørensen said. “If we are to resolve weaning problems, we have to think out of the box. We need to focus on management, hygiene, feed composition and nutrition, housing, health and align all of these elements.”
Noting that phasing out zinc oxide may be difficult and the lead up to the 2022 cut-off date will be uncertain, Vilomix said the project was launched to create a learning forum in which participants can try out different actions in close consultation with Vilomix and SEGES, while zinc oxide can still be used.
Michael Nielsen, a pig producer in Denmark who owns the Tilsbaek farm with 850 sows, said his motivation for taking part in the project is to gain experience in how zinc oxide can be phased out without experiencing any increase in medicine use.
He has already started some experimenting but is open to input on how to take the next step.
“I think that having visits from experts and being able to exchange ideas, attitudes and know-how is truly exciting, and helps me understand what I actually need to do for our specific production setup,” Nielsen said.
“We need to gather experience from herds who are leading in the phase-out of zinc oxide and combine this with ongoing research projects to find the best solutions for all pig producers,” said SEGES senior consultant Poul Baekbo, who is part of the zinc group.
“We are always interested in engaging with industry members with specialized know-how and understanding of the challenges that farmers face. We are heading into uncertainty that will challenge pig producers in several areas. The Vilomix project, therefore, makes a lot of sense, as we have to keep up production levels and health in the pig production.”
The Vilomix Group's primary business areas are sales and production of vitamin and mineral solutions, concentrates and milk replacers for farmers and the feed industry.
Vilomix was founded in 1979 by Paul Erik Iversen. Today, the Vilomix Group has more than 500 employees in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Serbia, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Shanghai, China. The group consists of nine factories and three sales divisions.
Vilomix is part of the Danish Agro Group.