Survey examines 72% of US sow diets for vitamins and trace minerals

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Vitamins and trace minerals are added to pig feed to contribute to the health, performance and welfare of the animal. Depending on the phase or stage of production, pigs need different amounts of each vitamin and trace element, and some of them are closely involved in reproductive functions.

Most gestation and lactation diets are formulated well above National Research Council (NRC, 2012) requirements estimates for two main reasons. First, nutritionists want to maintain a margin of safety to account for potential reductions in vitamin bioavailability resulting from unfavorable storage conditions or excessive storage time. Second, this field has traditionally had little research, resulting in a lack of knowledge.

Six years ago, the nutritionists of 2.3 million sows were interviewed and confirmed that in the United States, vitamin and trace mineral levels often exceed NRC estimates. Furthermore, the survey showed considerable variation in the levels used by different pig farms. This variation can be attributed to differences in health status, source of vitamins and trace elements, feed mill characteristics, or nutritionists’ opinions of a margin of safety.

Additionally, in 2018 there were vitamin shortages which resulted in some vitamin inclusion rates being reduced, and it is unclear whether the resulting supplementation rates have remained or increased again. once the supply of vitamins has become adequate. Since six years have passed since the last US survey and 10 since the previous NRC publication, our goal was to update the concentrations of vitamins and trace elements used and to investigate a larger portion of industry than in 2016.

The survey procedures followed the same methods as Flohr et al. (2016). Nutritionists from pork production companies on the Top 40 Pork Powerhouse list and nutrition suppliers were contacted by email or phone from November 2021 to February 2022.

The survey aimed to identify the industrial levels of vitamins and trace elements added in complete gestation and lactation diets. Vitamins and trace minerals of interest included: vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K (menadione), thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B12, choline, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc, cobalt, chromium and carnitine.

The results were compiled and pooled to determine descriptive statistics in an Excel spreadsheet. Descriptive statistics used included: mean, weighted mean (determined by total number of sows), median, minimum, maximum, 25th percentile (lowest quartile) and 75th percentile (highest quartile). All values ​​were determined using Excel formula functions, including mean, standard deviation (STDEV.S), median, minimum (MIN), maximum (MAX) and 25th and 75th percentiles (QUARTILE. EXC). Weighted averages were calculated using Excel’s SUMPRODUCT function, in which participants’ vitamin or trace mineral concentration was multiplied by the number of sows and then divided by the total number of sows for all participants who provided additional levels for that nutrient. Mean vitamin and trace mineral concentrations were compared to total dietary requirement estimates from NRC (2012) and Flohr et al. (2016).

Gestation and lactation diets (Table 1) were provided by 29 production systems and seven nutrition suppliers totaling approximately 4,370,100 sows, or 72% of the US industry. Fat-soluble vitamins represented on average 113% of the values ​​obtained by Flohr et al. (2016). Vitamin A supplementation ranged from 5,511 to 12,472 IU/kg, with an average of 9,646 IU/kg representing 2.41 and 4.82 times the NRC (2012) for gestation and lactation diets, respectively. Vitamin D3 supplementation ranged from 1500 to 4499 IU/kg, with an average level of 2367 IU/kg representing 2.96 times the NRC (2012).

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Thirteen of 36 producers provided vitamin D through 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 as a source or percentage of supply (Table 2). Vitamin E supplementation ranged from 44.11 to 132.3 IU/kg, with an average level of 84.4 IU/kg representing 1.92 times the NRC (2012). Eight of 36 respondents indicated that natural vitamin E was a potential source of vitamin E. Vitamin K was supplemented in the range of 1.41 to 14.5 mg/kg with an average level of 3.96 mg/kg representing 7.92 times the NRC (2012). Water-soluble vitamins represented on average 103% of the values ​​obtained by Flohr et al. (2016).

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Thiamine was supplemented by 28 of 36 growers in the range of 0.25 to 9.92 mg/kg, with an average of 2.74 mg/kg representing 2.74 times the NRC (2012). Riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid were supplemented at intervals of 5.51-10.8 (mean 8.58 mg/kg), 22.0-82.7 (mean 45.3 mg/ kg), 20.0 to 45.2 mg/kg (mean 29.8 mg/kg), respectively. Pyridoxine ranged from 0.25 to 8.17 mg/kg, with an average of 3.11 mg/kg, which is 3.11 times the NRC (2012). Vitamin B12 was supplemented in a range of 20.0 to 55.1 μg/lb with an average of 36.5 μg/lb, which is 2.44 times the NRC (2012). Biotin and folic acid were supplemented at intervals of 0.09-0.65 mg/kg (mean 0.29 mg/kg) and 0.88-8.27 mg/kg (mean 2 ,11mg/kg). Choline was supplemented in a range of 300.0 to 778.4 mg/kg with an average of 576.3 and 566.1 mg/kg representing 0.46 and 0.57 times the NRC (2012) for diets gestation and lactation, respectively. A producer added vitamin C at 209.5 mg/kg.

Trace elements represented on average 104% of the values ​​obtained by Flohr et al. (2016). Copper was supplemented in a range of 11.6 to 25.0 ppm with an average of 17.6 ppm representing 1.76 and 0.88 times the NRC (2012) for gestation and lactation diets, respectively. Thirteen of the 36 respondents supplemented a percentage of Cu from an organic or chelated source. Manganese was supplemented in the range of 20.0 to 60.0 ppm with an average rate of 43.4 ppm representing 1.74 times the NRC (2012). Thirteen of the 36 respondents added a percentage of Mn from organic or chelated sources. Selenium was supplemented in a range of 0.27 to 0.31 ppm with an average of 0.30 ppm. Twenty-three of 36 producers provided a percentage of added Se from organic or chelated sources. Zinc was supplemented at 60.5 to 302.0 ppm with an average level of 127.8 and 125.3 ppm representing 1.28 and 1.25 times the NRC (2012) for gestation and lactation diets, respectively. Twelve of the 36 respondents added a percentage of Zn from organic or chelated sources. Iodine and iron were supplemented at intervals of 0.23-1.26 ppm (mean supplementation rate 0.52 ppm) and 45.0-165.0 ppm (mean supplementation rate 109, 7ppm). Twenty-one producers added chromium at 0.19 ppm. One producer added cobalt at a rate of 0.39 ppm and another added 19.8 mg/kg carnitine to the sow diet.

In conclusion, the update of current US vitamin and trace mineral inclusion levels in sow diets can be used as an industry benchmark. Different herd health states, sources of vitamins and trace elements, and formulating diets with a margin of safety mindset reflect the huge variation in certain vitamins and trace elements. In addition, comparisons with the recommendations of the most recent version (2012) of the NRC underline the need for more thorough and more recent studies. Finally, the snapshot provided by this survey could help in the development of trials whose objective is to better understand the most adequate levels of vitamins and trace elements in the diet of sows.

Data concerning all production phases will be discussed in greater depth during the K State Pig Industry Day 2022 November 17.

The authors would like to express their gratitude to all the nutritionists who shared information to help build this survey.

Source: Jamil EG Faccin, Mike D. Tokach, Jason C. Woodworth, Joel M. DeRouchey, Jordan T. Gebhardt and Robert D. Goodband, who are solely responsible for and fully own the information provided. Informa Business Media and all of its affiliates are not responsible for any content contained in this information asset.

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