Devenish roadshows advise pig farmers how to "Evolve and Prosper" after zinc oxide ban

26th June 2023

Devenish roadshows advise pig farmers how to "Evolve and Prosper" after zinc oxide ban

At a series of roadshows across the island of Ireland, Devenish presented their latest research and new EnteriMAX piglet diet range. The information presented intends to help farmers respond to the imminent removal of zinc oxide from piglet diets.

Attendees at the events held in Cookstown, NI, and Cavan, Thurles and Macroom, Ireland heard presentations from Dr Sammy Hawe, Technical and Commercial Development Officer, and Dr. Marian Scott, Innovation and Development Manager as they outlined potential solutions relating to both management and nutrition.

Dr. Hawe outlined how producers must start thinking about zinc removal as far back as service to get the sow built up to produce a robust, resilient pig at weaning.

Due to hyper-prolific sows, piglet numbers are higher and weaning weights lower. This significantly impacts growth performance, as research showed that a 600g difference in birth weight can stretch to over 9kg at finish, meaning more time in the finisher accommodation, with up to 11 more days to market weight.

Colostrum is one area producers should focus on, with a target intake of 250g. However, due to the increased number of piglets born, the finite colostrum resource now needs to be shared across more pigs. Whilst colostrum quantity has stayed the same, Devenish's research has shown how you can increase the quality by raising immunoglobulin levels, pushing out the immunity gap - the time between passive immunity from the sow's colostrum and active immunity built up in the pig.

Research on ColfaPig®, a specific mix of encapsulated short and medium-chain fatty acids showed higher IgA, IgG and IgM levels for an extended period of time. Increased levels of fat in both colostrum and milk, give the piglets a much-needed energy source and weaning weights increased by 510g compared to pigs not being fed the fatty acid mix.

The smaller pigs have the ability to drive on weaning weight when given special attention and being moved onto pre-starter earlier.

Dr. Scott outlined that developing the pig's gut and increasing surface area was key to performance and that there is a linear relationship between feed intake and villi establishment. This gut maturity, through the development of enterocytes in the villi that absorb the nutrients, can significantly impact piglet performance. Attendees were shown research outlining how increasing creep intake in the farrowing room by 300g resulted in an 800g increase in weaning weight.

The immediate post-weaning period was called out as a time that needed extra attention as it is typically associated with poor intakes and low growth rates. If handled badly it can impact the gut development achieved in the farrowing room, increasing the pig's susceptibility to pathogens and incidence of scour.

Dr. Scott showcased Devenish's new zinc-free feeding programme, EnteriMAX®. The result of five years intensive gut health research, involving trials on over 120,000 pigs has shown the range's ability to maintain performance compared to diets containing zinc, something thought impossible when the ban on zinc was first mooted.

The range focuses on the structure, function, maturity, and colonization of the gut and contains Devenish's novel nutritional products, widely researched over the past 20 years. These deliver multi-dimensional benefits and the ability to reduce crude protein levels without impacting growth performance.

Dr. Scott stressed that as well as nutritional solutions, management on-farm was going to be an essential component in the successful removal of zinc. Biosecurity, hygiene, health status, ventilation, and temperature were highlighted as non-negotiables.

Mick O'Connell, Director of Pigs at Devenish said "The removal of zinc oxide is a major change in our industry, arguably the biggest in over 30 years. In a recent survey with our customers, 65% of farmers are concerned about the removal of zinc oxide, a move necessary through EU legislation changes.

We are confident that our EnteriMAX® programme, coupled with good management on-farm will enable producers to meet the challenge head-on and maintain performance. At a time when pig producers are starting to make money again after a period of significant losses, we want to help our customers capitalize on that by maximizing performance".

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