ZnO ban: a challenge for protein producers
Time has run out to find a solution for replacing zinc oxide in animal feed. The EU has banned the use of medicinal, high-level ZnO and more countries are expected to follow. It is becoming increasingly clear that zinc oxide cannot be replaced by a single product. What about a smart combination of strategies as solution for this ban?
Reducing crude protein levels in pre-starter diets to a level of 16.5-17.5% is commonly used in the Netherlands as part of the strategy to replace medicinal levels of zinc oxide. Supplementing essential amino acids to maintain the optimal dietary amino acid profile is part of this strategy. Reducing crude protein levels indirectly stimulates the gut health of piglets. Other important interventions in the strategy to prevent post-weaning diarrhoea include the use of easily digestible nutrients, good feed hygiene, clean drinking water and stimulation of feed intake when suckling and directly after weaning.
Therapeutic high-level zinc oxide can be a very effective tool for preventing post-weaning diarrhoea in piglets. The global use of zinc oxide has therefore drastically increased. In 2017, the EU decided to ban medicinal use of zinc. From June 26th 2022, zinc as a feed additive can only be supplied in quantities that meet daily requirements. The allowed maximum level is currently set at 150 mg/kg of complete feed (EU 2016/1095).
From June 26th 2022, all EU poultry and swine farmers need to produce without using medicinal levels of zinc. Replacing therapeutic high-level zinc oxide is not easy and there is not yet a solution that will work on every farm. Furthermore, given the low cost of ZnO, a cost-effective replacement strategy seems difficult in practice.
FRAmelco created a farm-specific solution to replace ZnO: A custom blend of a-monoglycerides, lysolecithins and glycerides of butyric acid. Although the cost was slightly higher compared to using medicinal levels of zinc oxide, piglet performance improved. This was indicated by higher final body weights and improved FCR, and resulted in higher revenue and a positive ROI.
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