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Acid-based eubiotics as natural alternatives to therapeutic zinc oxide in newly weaned piglets

In a recent study published in Engormix, eubiotic treatments provided an economical benefit over zinc oxide treatments which could provide an alternative to zinc in weaner diets.

21 August 2019, at 11:18am

The study, authored by Heidi Hall, Martin Nyachoti and David Harrington, evaluated two acid-based eubiotics (ABE) in replacement for therapeutic zinc oxide in an E. coli challenge piglet study. With the recent EU ban on therapeutic levels of zinc in animal diets, it is important that environmentally-friendly, sustainable alternatives are trialled to ensure pig performance and welfare is maintained.

The study observed treatment of 48 piglets (PIC (Yorkshire × Landrace) × Duroc)) with diets at weaning (21 days) for a duration of 28 days in a random block design (2 pigs per pen, 6 replicates). All diets were formulated in excess of nutritional recommendations (NRC 2012) and were provided ab lib. Treatments were:

  • control (CON), basal diet, no additives;
  • ABE 1, 3kg/t inclusion of a blend of formic and propionic acids on a mineral carrier (pHorce, Anpario plc, Worksop, UK);
  • ABE 2, 4kg/t inclusion of a blend of formic and propionic acids and plant extracts on a mineral carrier (Genex Weaner, Anpario plc, Worksop, UK);
  • zinc oxide (ZnO) commercially available 3kg/t.

Eight days post weaning (29 days of age), all piglets were challenged with 6 mL (6.1 × 109 cfu/mL) ETEC (E. coli, strain K88+). Body weight and feed intake were measured weekly and diarrhoea scores and faecal pH was measured on D7, 14 and 28.


The ABE 1 resulted in similar growth performance and digesta pH to the zinc oxide treatment. ABE 2 gave a numerical improvement in comparison to zinc treatment and digesta pH also significantly reduced, which can improve diet digestibility and help maintain good gut health. Using material costs at the time of the study the eubiotic treatments provided an economical benefit over the control and zinc oxide treatments.

Read the full study here.

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