Hygiene is vital when zinc oxide is phased out
Vilomix is working full speed with a project to deal with the challenges that pig farmers will encounter in 2022, when zinc oxide can no longer be used against diarrhoea in weaned pigs. The project involves pig herds, vets and SEGES - the Danish Pig Research Centre. One of the first lessons learned is what hygiene means in relation to phasing out zinc oxide.
The project is well under way at several herds, where the policy is to take an open-minded approach to dealing with the weaning problem.
The herds are being checked focusing on management, hygiene, feed composition, housing, unit design, health status, etc.
“If we are to resolve weaning problems, we have to think out of the box. We need to focus on management, hygiene, the feed composition, housing, unit design, herd health and get all these elements aligned,” says Kristina Sørensen, Product Manager, Pigs, Vilomix.
Hygiene is just one of many factors that consultants from Vilomix and Vilofarm are looking at when visiting herds.
Vilofarm is a subsidiary of Vilomix that advises on such matters as hygiene and disinfection, and is part of the zinc-free project.
On the first visit to the herds, farrowing and controlled environment sections are inspected, along with the feed barn.
An action plan is drawn up, according to which the farmer is involved in determining what ought to be implemented.
A follow-up visit is next, after which the herd runs zinc-free for a period. Every startup visit has involved discussions on hygiene.
“One of the first lessons we learned with the first herds was that hygiene, in addition to feed composition and feed management, is also part of the equation when it comes to weaning without zinc,” states Product Manager for Pigs at Vilomix, Kristina Sørensen. “If we stress piglets on hygiene factors even before they leave the farrowing section, they will have the odds against them during the weaning period, so the more stress we can eliminate, the better.”
“Everyone has a cleaning plan – but we found certain aspects related to hygiene and disinfection at every herd that can push infection rates in the wrong direction,” says Erling Lindberg, Vilofarm. “The plan often runs off the rails in terms of implementation”.
“We need to work on the herd’s approach, and particularly its routines. We’re talking about 90% of hard work and 10% chemicals, and the importance of not transferring stressed animals to the controlled environment section because of less hygiene, as this would be yet another obstacle to overcome in the phasing-out of zinc in the controlled environment section.”
Vilomix covers a wide range of desinfection products - among these the dry infection product called Agrosan, which is widely used to improve the hygiene of the stable floor.