It was a real surprise, at least to me, when I was informed that the European Union is banning the inclusion of cobalt in pig and poultry feeds, concentrates, and premixes, starting in 2014!
For years, I have been answering the question whether monogastric animals require cobalt, and the answer is yes, they do, but only as part of vitamin B12, which we routinely include in their feeds. Thus, they do not need extra cobalt, like ruminants that depend on their rumen bacteria to manufacture B12 using dietary cobalt.
Every time I was asked to review a premix formulation and it was found guilty of containing cobalt, I was sure it was either a very old product (when pigs were raised in dry lots and pastures), or most likely, a generic premix designed to be used across many species. Either way, it was always in my check list of ‘get rid of this or that’...
So, starting in 2014, we need to update our premix formulations (talk to your premix supplier), our feed labels (don’t forget that or you will end up running expensive lab analyses to prove you’re not an elephant - pretty typical requirement for most processes in the EU these days) and of course, why not, let your customers know you’re following the latest directives. Being a feed manufacturer myself, I know this is not what we want to be doing, but it helps to proactive rather than reactive when it comes to regulations.
Hopefully, this is the last we will be hearing of cobalt. May it rest in peace!