Exploring Zinc deficiency using serum Zn levels: consequences and potential solutions in suckling pigs

Laia Blavi, Sandra Villagómez-Estrada, David Solà-Oriol, José F Pérez


Three trials were undertaken to provide an answer to different questions: 1) Are suckling pigs able to maintain physiological serum Zn levels throughout lactation and do these levels vary between high and low BW pigs, 2) Are serum Zn levels in pigs soon after weaning a predisposing factor for diarrhea? and 3) Is it possible to increase serum Zn levels at weaning by supplementing Zn during lactation. In Trial 1, blood samples were taken from pigs during lactation. Eight pigs (one piglet per litter) had blood drawn at d 0 (farrowing), 7, 14, 21, and 28 (weaning), and 60 pigs (selected from the whole farrowing batch with 35 sows), categorized as either heavy (8.63 kg) or light (5.50 kg) had blood drawn at d 28. Serum Zn levels at birth were 1.2 mg/L and decreased (P < 0.01) to 0.67 mg/L at d 28. Heavier pigs showed greater (P < 0.01) serum Zn levels (0.98 mg/L) than light body weight (BW) pigs (0.79 mg/L). In Trial 2 blood samples were obtained from 240 pigs at weaning (26,2 ± 2,5 days) with an average initial BW of 6.94 ± 1.87 kg and were distributed into 24 pens (10 pigs/pen) by body weight. Diarrhea incidence was recorded daily from d 0 to d 35 post-weaning. From the 240 pigs, a group of 110 pigs with uniform BW (6.5 ± 1.9 kg) was selected and separated into two groups based on serum Zn levels at weaning with 55 pigs with low serum Zn (LZn; < 0.71 mg/L) and 55 pigs with high serum Zn (HZn; > 0.9 mg/L). Pigs with LZn were 2.49 times as likely to have diarrhea as pigs with HZn (P < 0.02). In Trial 3, a total of 96 suckling pigs were allotted 4 treatments that consisted of the daily administration of 0, 6, 18 or 30 mg of Zn as Zn Citrate in capsule-form during the last 7 d of lactation. Pigs were individually weighed, and blood samples were obtained on d 14, d 21 (weaning), and d 7 after weaning. Serum Zn levels linearly increased by day as Zn citrate supplementation increased (interaction, P < 0.001). However, only light pigs supplemented with 18 and 30 mg/L of Zn experienced an increase in serum Zn levels during lactation. In conclusion, a decrease in serum Zn levels occurs during lactation, and is more severe in low BW pigs. Low Zn status (< 0.7 mg/L) at weaning may be a predisposing factor for diarrhea. However, Zn supplementation during lactation can mitigate this decrease in light pigs.

2023. J. Anim. Sci. 101: skad396


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