Why vitamins are vital for your pigs

Published: 27-04-2023

Certain vitamins are stored relatively poorly in a pig’s body, which means that the addition of vitamins in the right amount is vital for maintaining productivity. Vitamins have major influence on the immune system of pigs.

Fat-soluble vitamins are: vitamins A, Beta-Carotene, D, E and K. On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins and vitamin K can be microbrially synthesised in the large intestine. Fat- and water-soluble vitamins are stored relatively poorly in a pig's body, which is why focus on the addition of vitamins in the right amount if vital. All vitamins have influence on the immune system of pigs: B12, E, C and selenium have direct influence, while the others have indirect influence. What's more, the different vitamins interact with each other. For example: vitamin C regenerates vitamin E.

Vitamin Norms

The Danish norms for vitamins were set based on physiological minimum requirements. A safety margin was added based on the requirements that can have an influence. Norms for vitamins for the various animal groups were set in 1990, with the norm for vitamin E being revised for lactating sows and suckling piglets a little later. The other vitamins have never been revised since the norms were set. One of the reasons may be that it’s expensive to run experiments with vitamins. The Danish norms are significantly lower than the rest of Europe, despite Danish pigs having the highest productivity.

It can be concluded from literature and practice that the need for vitamins rises in line with stress. That ought to give rise to revision of the requirement for vitamins, solely because of the rise in productivity since 1990. Vitamins influence a wide range of functions in a pig’s body that affect everything from general health in the herd to production results. Consequently, correct provision of vitamins also contributes to sustainable farming. That means that when general health is improved, the risk of antibiotic resistance and of aggressive disease outbreak is reduced.

Julie Holsbo

Recommendations from Vilomix

Vilomix has recommended exceeding the norm for vitamins for many years. The level has been an individual assessment based on health, housing conditions, productivity, the need for lower antibiotic use and phasing-out of medical zinc. During the winter, we worked on producing a Vilomix vitamin and mineral recommendation. Our conclusion was based on practical experience linked to the latest knowledge from abroad on vitamins and minerals for sows, weaners and finishers. 

Vitamin E is a relatively expensive vitamin, but often one that is never skimped in Danish mixes. The other vitamins are cheaper than vitamin E, which means that an extra addition will not have any major impact on the feed unit price. But it’s a sound investment to ensure the best vitamin intake for your pigs.


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