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Project Summary: 

Pig production in Ireland and other EU countries is heavily dependent on the use of high doses of zinc oxide (ZnO) in piglet feed. ZnO is used at high levels to control diarrhea in early-weaned pigs, a major health problem in pig production. The removal of ZnO from feeds often results in high mortalities and important delays in growth. However it is consider an environmental issue and the Committee for Medical Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) of the EMA recommended to the EC to ban the high-level use of ZnO. The EC has voted to phase out ZnO as a veterinary product giving countries 5 years to find alternatives. Piglet diarrhea is also the main use of antibiotics in animals. The removal of ZnO from piglet diets will result in an increase on the use of antibiotics. However, there is even more pressure from the EC to reduce the use of antibiotics. These project will study the effects of ZnO in the pigs microbiome, resistome and immune system in commercial conditions to help develop alternatives and will further develop promising strategies to stop the use of ZnO in farm providing Irish farmers with support when they have to remove ZnO.

 Expected benefits:

  •  Obtain vital information on the pathophysiological changes occurring after removal of ZnO supplementation in weaning pigs.
  • Provide scientific data on the effects of the use/removal of ZnO and antibiotics on microbial population of interest for pigs and humans.
  • Develop effective approaches and tools to remove ZnO ensuring the economic viability of the farms in years to come.
  • Quantify the economic impact of ZnO removal in Ireland.

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