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Trial report 900: Organic micro minerals in sow feed

Replacing inorganic with organically bound micro minerals showed no biological effects in sows when their need for micro minerals is covered via their feed.


Sows’ micro mineral requirements are met when 100 ppm iron, 15 ppm cobber, 40 ppm manganese, 100 ppm zinc and 0.35 ppm selenium in the form of salts are added to their feed. With these concentrations, no additional effect is obtained on productivity, longevity and claw health by adding organically bound micro minerals from the Alltech Ltd. products Bio-Plex and Sel-Plex. The lack of effect is mainly attributed to the fact that Danish sows have their micro mineral requirements covered in the above concentrations.

Analyses of sow milk, liver tissue, and carcase and blood from newborn piglets revealed that neither sows, piglets nor weaners had a deficiency in the micro minerals selenium, iron, zinc, cobber and manganese compared with reference values. The results also indicated that the concentration of micro minerals in this trial was high compared with the sows’ requirement.

The aim of this trial was to establish whether the addition of organically bound micro minerals improved sow productivity, longevity and claw health compared with micro minerals bound as salts. Hypothetically, an effect will occur if old sows, in particular, have a micro mineral deficiency and will consequently have a higher intake when organically bound micro minerals are added.

The trial comprised a control group and a trial group. Micro minerals bound as salts were added to the feed in the control group, whereas the sows in the trial group were fed diets with organically bound micro minerals. The control and trial diets were identical in terms of nutrients and ingredients, ie. the only difference was the source of micro minerals.

The trial ran for 36 months on two farms where the sows were fed individually in feeding stations during gestation. One diet was used for lactating sows and one for gestating sows. The sows were included in the trial after their first service.

Micro mineral status in liver tissue and sow milk as well as haemoglobin levels in the blood were analysed to document changes, if any, when different micro mineral sources were used. The concentration of micro minerals in newborn piglet carcases was also determined.

The highest concentration of micro minerals in liver tissue was found in the trial sows, which indicates that organically bound micro minerals have a higher absorbability than micro minerals bound as salts as the liver acts as a buffer for a number of micro minerals. However, with the exception of selenium, the increased concentration of micro minerals in liver tissue did not result in an increased concentration in the sow milk. In fact, with the exception of selenium, the concentration of micro minerals was generally lower in the sow milk. This is not practical as the results revealed a correlation between the concentration of micro minerals in sow milk and the concentration of micro minerals in liver tissue from 28-day-old pigs. 

Financial support

The trial received financial support from the Pig Levy Fund and the EU and the Rural District Programme under the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. Project ID: 09/10/53; File no.: 3663-D-09-00367.


Updated: 12.04.2011


Gunner Sørensen

Programme manager

Tel.: +45 3339 4398