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Alpha-Monoglycerides promising alternative to Zinc oxide

New data show that α-monoglycerides are a promising tool to replace zinc oxide in weaned piglets. A special combination of α-monoglycerides was tested against zinc oxide under suboptimal circumstances on a Belgian farm were E. Coli is known to cause problems in weaned piglets. The results showed that α-monoglycerides were able to replace 2 kg zinc oxide per ton feed without any negative effect on performance and diarrhoea score. Alternatives to zinc oxide are important because of its negative impact on the environment.  


Zinc oxide in high doses to prevent diarrhoea in weaned piglets is currently point of discussion due to environmental issues. Moreover, recently there are concerns about the potential increase of bacterial antibiotic resistance due to the use of high zinc levels. However, zinc oxide seems to be the most effective solution to overcome diarrhoea in weaned piglets. Hence, the pig industry needs alternative solutions when medicinal zinc is no longer allowed, which will soon be reality.

Special blend

FRAmelco developed a concept to replace zinc oxide in a safe way. This concept is based on a special combination of α-monoglycerides. The different kinds of α-monoglycerides are known for their antibacterial effect either against gram-negative bacteria, like E. Coli and Salmonella or gram-positive bacteria, like Streptococcus. Combining the different α-monoglycerides will result in a broad spectrum effect.

The alternative to zinc oxide

The new concept was tested against a high dose level of zinc oxide (2 kg ZnO per ton feed) under practical and suboptimal conditions in Belgium. Piglets were weaned at 3 weeks and followed during 2 weeks after weaning. Piglets receiving the combination of α-monoglycerides performed comparable or even better compared to piglets in the zinc oxide group. Both groups suffered from diarrhoea, but the α-monoglycerides group less severe, which resulted in a lower use of medicines. Growth and feed intake were slightly higher in the α-monoglycerides group compared to the zinc oxide group.

From these results it can be concluded that α-monoglycerides could replace medicinal zinc on farms with E. Coli problems, without any negative effect on performance of weaned piglets. Moreover, in contrast to zinc oxide, α-monoglycerides do not have any negative impact on the environment.