June Newsletter

Time is running out

For decades and especially since antibiotics growth promoters have been banned, zinc oxide at pharmacological dosages is one of the most effective and used tools to control diarrhea in post-weaning piglets. However, zinc oxide promotes the selection of antimicrobial resistant pathogens like E. coli in the intestine and is a co-factor in the development of resistance in Gram positive bacteria. On the other hand, the use of zinc oxide in farmed animals causes its excretion with feces. Swine manure is frequently used as a fertilizer and this leads to the accumulation of ZnO in soil and groundwater, with high toxicity for aquatic life and long-lasting effects. According to this, the use of high-level zinc oxide at weaning will no longer be allowed in the EU starting from 2022.

An alternative is needed

Cho et al. (2018) demonstrated that microencapsulated zinc oxide can be a good alternative to the free form at pharmacological dosages. They compared a standard diet for weaned piglets with or without free zinc oxide at 3 kg/MT or microencapsulated zinc oxide (Zincoret®S) at 0.3 kg/MT (equal to 150 g/MT of free zinc oxide). The trial lasted 34 days, starting from piglets weaning ad 21 days of life. After this period, there were no statistically significant differences among groups for what concern average daily gain and feed intake, while the final body weight was significantly higher for animals fed Zincoret®S compared to those of the free zinc oxide (21.69 kg VS 20.45 kg, P=0.03). These results corroborate our previous study: we demonstrated that 0.3-0.8 kg/MT of Zincoret®S improved live performance (ADG, BW, FCR) and intestinal health (inflammatory cytokines, mucosal morphology and barrier function) compared to the control group and allowed to reach the same results of piglets fed ZnO at 3 kg/MT.

Another way to face the increasing in diarrhea incidence is to help piglets to restore their intestinal health in the post-weaning period. As known, weaning causes intestinal inflammation and loss of mucosal barrier function, and diarrhea is caused or complicated by intestinal microbial disorders. That being said, the combination of organic acids and nature identical compounds in a microencapsulated form can be a good solution to improve animal growth and to preserve and restore their intestinal health. As recently confirmed by Oh et al. (2018), 1-2 kg/MT of AviPlus®S can improve BW, ADG, ADFI, and FCR in weaned piglets. In the same study, after 42 days of trial, lactobacilli count in fecal samples was (respectively numerically and statistically) higher in the group fed 1 or 2 kg/MT AviPlus®S compared to the control. For the rest of the trial (154 days total), the number of these bacteria was not affected by the product. At the same time, the synergistic antimicrobial activity of AviPlus®S ingredients is demonstrated against different pathogens, and their slow release due to the microencapsulation technology allows their activity along the whole intestine. For what concern intestinal health, our previous studies demonstrated a reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokine expression, as well as the reduction of paracellular flux to large molecules through the intestinal epithelium, so an improvement of the general health and function of the intestinal mucosa.

The Vetagro solution

To face the ban of zinc oxide at therapeutic dosages, in the context of a general reduction of the use of antibiotics, piglets diarrhea is a very urgent problem. Vetagro has an ongoing commitment to find out innovative and science-based solutions. Zincoret®S, our microencapsulated zinc oxide, allows reducing the level of this trace element in piglets diet, maintaining good life performance. On the other hand, AviPlus®S, due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, can help animals preserving and restoring intestinal health.



    • Cho et al. (2018). Can. J. Anim. Sci. 99:66-73
    • Grilli et al. (2015). Animal. 9(11):1760-1768
    • Oh et al. (2018). Can. J. Anim. Sci. 99:41-49