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Holistic Approach to Enhance Piglet Performance and Gut Health Challenges 


Since the ban in the European Union on pharmaceutical levels of zinc oxide (ZnO) in 2022, the industry has been seeking suitable nutritional solutions to fit its piglet gut health program, aiming to improve piglet health and productivity. Restrictions in the prophylactic use of antibiotics have also opened a new period in the design of post-weaned management and diets.

The main goals of the nursery stage are to avoid post-weaning growth loss and help piglets adapt to a grain-based diet while making this transition as rapidly as possible. The piglet’s immune system matures within the first six or seven weeks of life making simultaneous development, control, and regulation of the immune response a requirement to optimize the immunocompetence in piglets.

At gut level, the development of the mucosal immune system coincides with the colonization of commensal and pathogenic microflora. Studies1 have demonstrated that establishing proper gut microbiota in nursery pigs is paramount for growth performance throughout the whole pig’s production life.

The role of organic acids and trace minerals

Organic acids are one of the most employed ingredients in pig nutrition. The factor that limits an organic acid’s antibacterial efficacy in lower parts of the intestine is the need to be released in the gut2. Protecting organic acids in a fat matrix can support the release in more distal parts of the gastrointestinal tract, inducing a positive modulation of the gut microflora3.

The interest in chelated trace minerals has increased in recent years as they’ve been recognized as more bioavailable than other trace minerals. Chelated trace minerals are shown to improve metabolic functions resulting in enhanced performance responses and less excretion into the environment4.

A study5 conducted by NOVUS found that feeding a protected organic acid blend including benzoic acid (PROVENIA® Feed Solution) and Zn, Cu, and Mn chelates of hydroxy analogue of methionine (MINTREX® Bis-Chelated Trace Minerals) not only improved piglets’ final body weight by +2.2 kg, average daily growth by +13% and decreased the feed-to-gain ratio by 9.5%, but also improved the morphology of the gut mucosa, decreasing the number of E. coli by 16%, while improving beneficial bacteria growth.

Learn how our Scale UpTM Program can help you to get better gut integrity and optimize efficiency and profitability in your farm. Learn more.



  1. Correa, F.; Luise, D.; Castillo, M.; Peris, S.; Palomo-Yague, A.; Bosi, P.; Trevisi, P., 2021. Effect of dietary supplementation with a blend of protected aromatic compounds, including benzoic acid, on growth performance and faecal microbial profile of weaned piglets as an alternative to Zinc Oxide. Livest. Sci. 246, 104455. 
  2. Bosi, P., Sarli, G., Casini, L., Filippi, S.D., Trevisi, P., Mazzoni, M., Merialdi, G., 2005. Effect of dietary addition of free or fat-protected calcium formate on growth, intestinal morphology and health of Escherichia coli k88 challenged weaning pigs. Italian. J. Anim. Sci. 4, 455-457.
  3.  Lee J.S., Kim, T.H., Song, M.H., Oh, H.J., Yun, W., Lee, J.H., Kim, Y.J., Lee, B.K., Kim, H.B., Cho, J.H., 2021. Effects of microencapsulated organic acids on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, fecal microbial counts, and blood profiles in weaning pigs. J. Anim. Sci. Technol. 63, 104-113. 4.
  4. Liu, Y., Ma, Y.L., Zhao, J.M., Vazquez-Añón, M., Stein, H.H., 2014. Digestibility and retention of zinc, copper, manganese, iron, calcium, and phosphorus in pigs fed diets containing inorganic or organic minerals. J. Anim. Sci. 92, 3407-3415. 5.
  5. Perić, D., Barea, R., Nešić, S., Makivić, L., Janić, J., Šefer, D., Marković, R., 2023. Effects of dietary supplementation with benzoic acid and chelated copper, zinc and manganese sources on production performance in piglets. Acta Veterinaria-Beograd 73, 355-373. 
Roberto Barea
Roberto Barea, DMV, Ph.D. 

An expert in all the stages of swine health and how nutrition can impact development and performance, Dr. Roberto Barea is a vital member of the NOVUS swine team in Europe. In this role, he helps customers improve sow productivity, survival rate and growth of piglets, and overall swine health to improve animal welfare and customer profitability.   Read more about Dr. Barea...

Guillermo Minguito
Guillermo A. Minguito, DVM

Working in the industry since 2011, today Dr. A. Minguito collaborates with the commercial and technical services teams at NOVUS to develop the go-to-market strategy for the swine business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. His role includes short- and long-term planning along with evaluating market challenges and trends to identify opportunities within the NOVUS portfolio and technologies to support customers.

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