Weaning is one of the most stressful periods in a pig’s life.
Post-weaning diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli (E.coli) is one of the most prevalent diseases in pig production worldwide. The result are reduced growth rates as well as increased finishing time and mortality.
High, therapeutic doses of zinc oxide (ZnO) have been shown to help to prevent diarrhea in weaned piglets and are therefore a proven tool in starter diets internationally. However, high dosages of ZnO are resulting in an increased risk of excretion of heavy metals to the environment, which has led to a ban of high dose dietary ZnO inside the European Union which is already in place. Nevertheless, zinc plays an essential role in stabilizing molecular cell structures, also contributing to the maintenance of gut integrity. It is known to promote the gene expression of tight junction proteins to reduce the permeability of mucus, thereby avoiding penetration of pathogens.
A feeding trial with 200 piglets was carried out to assess the effect of MAXACTIVAT/Zn supplementation on the intestinal health status of piglets. 16 animals were sampled to quantitatively assess most relevant bacterial taxa in the distal intestine. Results in the F1 show that E. coli counts were reduced by 76% when piglets were fed MAXACTIVAT/Zn compared to the control receiving feed grade ZnO. Total bacterial counts were slightly higher in the MAXACTIVAT/Zn group as the amount of desirable bacteria such as Bifidobacteria increased.
These findings are especially important due to the relevance of E.coli in post-weaning diarrhea of piglets. In another feeding trial we could underline the importance of the right zinc source when zinc oxide is supplemented within legal feed levels in the EU. In this trial, the effect of MAXACTIVAT/Zn supplementation on the incidence of diarrhea in weaned piglets was assessed. A basal diet was fed with 160 ppm ZnO (feed grade) for the control and 160 ppm MAXACTIVAT/Zn for the treatment group. The consistency of the feces was assessed daily according to an defined evaluation scheme. As shown in F2, animals fed with MAXACTIVAT/Zn had a lower probability of suffering from diarrhea. Furthermore, daily weight gain was improved by 27% and FCR was about 17% lower.
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