Vilomix in new project with SEGES on zinc-free feeding

To counter the problems pig producers will meet in 2022, when zinc oxide can no longer be used against weaning diarrhoea, Vilomix started a new project to work with the future problems in cooperation with SEGES, the Danish Pig Research Centre. The objective is to use the expertise of each organisation to jointly find solutions to benefit all pig producers.

Zinc oxide cannot be used after June 2022 in the EU pig production. That will put forward new demands for producers and for the industry delivering solutions to them.

That's why Vilomix - specialising in customer-specific vitamin and mineral premixes - 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 vets.

“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,” says Kristina Sørensen, Product Manager, pigs, for Vilomix. 

No miracle cure

All the 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,” says Kristina Sørensen, Vilomix and continues.

“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.” 

It´s all about learning

There is no denying that phasing out zinc oxide is going to be hard, and the time before the cut-off date in 2022 will be uncertain. This project has therefore been launched to create a learning forum in which the participants can try out different actions in close consultation with Vilomix and SEGES, while zinc oxide can still be used.

Michael Nielsen is a Danish pig producer and owns the Tilsbæk farm with 850 sows and production of piglets.

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 experimenting a little, but is now 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,” explains Nielsen.

The right players

The fact that Vilomix has taken the initiative for getting more herds to reduce zinc oxide is the right way to go. That’s the opinion of Poul Bækbo, Senior Consultant at SEGES and part of the zinc group at SEGES. The group has existed since 2018 and was positive when Vilomix contacted SEGES with the idea of a cooperation.

“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”, states Bækbo and continues.

“We are always interested in engaging with industry members with specialised 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.”

If you want to know more on the project, don´t hesitate to contact Kristina Sørensen