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Trace minerals control many metabolic pathways for energy
efficiency, health and immunity in pigs, but trace mineral requirement
estimates have not changed very much in the last 50 years, according to Dr.
Merlin Lindemann, professor, animal science, University of Kentucky. In the
same time frame, all measures of swine productivity have increased, e.g.,
litter size, growth rate and feed efficiency, but feed intake has actually
decreased. Lindemann told the audience at the WATTAgnet.com webinar, "The real value of trace minerals in driving
performance," sponsored by Novus International, that since feed conversions
have improved, the concentration of trace minerals in the diet may need to be
increased to offset the trace minerals that would have been obtained in the pounds
of feed that are no longer being consumed.
In addition to increasing trace mineral concentration in the
diet, the supply of trace minerals that are actually available for the pig to
utilize is affected by the relative bioavailability of the source, mineral
interactions and the presence of dietary anti-nutrients. Organic sources of
trace minerals can be more bioavailable than inorganic sources, and not all
organic sources of trace minerals have the same bioavailability.
Lindemann said that the impact of additional tracemineral
supplementation of swine diets can be demonstrated most easily in rapidly growing
pigs or in pregnant and/or nursing sows. He presented research results that showed
that the number of piglets that survive to weaning can be increased in sows by
increasing trace mineral supplementation in the diet. This effect is most
evident when comparing sows that have had multiple litters. He suggested that concentration
of trace minerals should be increased in diets for older sows.
If the trace mineral content of a sow’s diet is not
optimized, Lindemann said that the amount of demineralization of the sow will
increase with each successive litter. Optimizing the trace mineral content of
the sow’s diet can prevent this demineralization and can result in as much as
one additional piglet surviving to weaning in later litters. Better sow
mineralization can also result in higher piglet birth weights, which are
strongly correlated with the growth rate of the pig up to market age.