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4 minutes read

How to Improve Piglet Survival Rate with Trace Mineral Nutrition

Two sows lying in crates with piglets
Dr. Zachary Rambo

Global RNS Species Leader – Swine
Zinpro Corporation

One of the biggest challenges in the pork industry is piglet survivability and performance in all phases of production. This is especially important during the lactation period, as this phase continues to be a challenge for many swine production systems. The average pre-wean mortality rate in the United States is around 16 percent with high variation, and opportunity for improvement.

One main factor for piglet death is inadequate colostrum and milk consumption in the first 24 to 48 hours of life. In addition to a compromised plane of nutrition, these piglets will have reduced transfer of maternal antibodies that lead to a poorer immune status. These piglets are considered high-risk candidates to perish prematurely during the lactation period.

Swine Nutrition Impacts the Next Generation

Research has shown that when we supplement gestating gilts and sows with performance trace minerals, we see improved performance outcomes in those sows, and a lasting impact on the offspring by improving immune function and increasing weaning and finishing weights.

Zinpro conducted a study to evaluate the effect of trace minerals in sow nutrition and its impact on colostrum composition and piglet weaning weight. Forty sows were randomly assigned to one of two dietary treatments and remained on their respective diets for the entire gestation and lactation period.

Inorganic Treatment: Fed 110 ppm of Zn, 40 ppm of Mn, and 15 ppm of Cu from inorganic sources

Availa®Sow Treatment: Fed 60 ppm of Zn, 20 ppm of Mn, and 5 ppm of Cu from inorganic sources, then supplemented with 50 ppm of Zn, 20 ppm of Mn, and 10 ppm of Cu from Availa®Sow.

Performance Trace Minerals: More Robust Immune Response

Research results demonstrated that the sows supplemented with Availa-Sow had a numerically higher concentration of Immunoglobulin G (IgG) in the colostrum (52.0 mg/mL compared to 41.7 mg/mL) and this translated to a higher IgG concentration in the piglet serum (43.6 compared to 40.6 mg/mL) compared to sows and piglets fed the inorganic treatment. A higher concentration of IgG in the colostrum and piglet serum demonstrates a higher level of maternal antibodies being transferred from the sow to the pig, helping to provide the piglet with a more robust immune system.

Performance Trace Minerals: Manage Inflammation, Boost Weaning and Finishing Weights

Researcher also showed that the overall somatic cell count in the colostrum and milk was significantly lower (6.90 compared to 7.81 Log SCC) in the sows supplemented with Availa-Sow. Similar reductions in somatic cell count have been demonstrated in dairy cows supplemented with Zinpro Performance Minerals®.

Bar graph showing somatic cell count

Somatic cells are a marker for systemic inflammation in the milk. By lowering the somatic cell count, we’re lowering systemic inflammation in the sow. Lower inflammation in the sow allows her to concentrate more energy and nutrients towards milk production versus fighting inflammation. This results in greater milk production throughout lactation and equates to significantly higher litter weaning weights (153 compared to 136 lb; 69.5 compared to 61.7 kg) and numerically greater individual weaning weights in the offspring from sows fed Availa-Sow. This response was recognized in the absence of an increase in sow lactation feed intake, suggesting that a redistribution of nutrients toward milk production has occurred.

Bar graph showing litter weaning weight

How does this translate to finishing performance? Research from Schinckel et al., (2009) shows that a piglet is 2.2 pounds (1 kg) heavier at the end of weaning should be 6.6 pounds (3 kg) heavier at the end of finishing. If that pig is 2.2 pounds (1 kg) heavier and we take him to a constant body weight of 250 pounds, the pig should achieve that finishing weight nearly four days faster.

Bottom Line: Performance Trace Minerals Result in Performance

Performance trace minerals, like Availa Sow, help create a more efficient sow. She is eating the same amount of feed as a sow that is eating sulfate minerals, yet she is:

  • Passing more antibodies to the piglets and helping to create a more robust immune response to challenges;
  • Reducing systemic inflammation and somatic cell count, resulting in higher milk production and piglet weaning weight as milk is the piglet’s only source of nutrition, and
  • Heavier weaning weights mean the pig should achieve a heavier finishing weight more efficiently … resulting in less time in the finishing barn.

To learn more about this research study, download the Research Now Report. For more information about the benefits of incorporating Zinpro Performance Minerals into swine diets, contact a Zinpro representative today.

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