Full Paper

Levels of copper and zinc in diets for growing and finishing pigs can be reduced without detrimental effects on production and mineral status*

A. Hernándeza1 c1, J. R. Pluskea1, D. N. D’Souzaa2 and B. P. Mullana3

a1 School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch 6150, Western Australia, Australia

a2 Alltech Biotechnology P/L, 64-70 Nissan Drive, Dandenong South, 3175, Victoria, Australia

a3 Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia, Locked Bag No. 4, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia 6983, Australia


One hundred and sixty pigs were used to evaluate dietary copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) supplementation on performance, fecal mineral levels, body mineral status and carcass and meat quality. Diets differed in mineral form (MF) (Cu and Zn in the form of proteinate amino acid chelate (organic) or sulfate (inorganic)) and inclusion level (IL) (27 mg/kg of total Cu and 65 mg/kg of total Zn (‘low’) or 156 mg/kg of total Cu and 170 mg/kg of total Zn (‘high’)) according to a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Pigs were used from 25 to 107 kg body weight (BW) and fed their respective diets ad libitum. Blood and fecal samples were collected on days 14 and 77 of the experiment. Blood was analyzed for concentration of Cu and Zn, hemoglobin (Hb), Cu content of red blood cells (RBC Cu) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and feces for Cu and Zn concentration. Hot carcass weight (HCW) and backfat depth were measured at slaughter and indices of meat quality were assessed on a section of longissimus thoracis. Liver, kidney and bone samples were collected immediately after slaughter and liver and kidney were tested for Cu and Zn content, while bone was only tested for Zn. Over the entire experimental period (25 to 107 kg BW) no significant treatment differences in average daily gain (ADG) or average daily feed intake (ADFI) occurred; however, feed conversion ratio (FCR) was improved by the inclusion of proteinate amino acid chelate (P = 0.012). Copper and Zn concentrations in feces were in direct proportion to the IL in the diet. Blood mineral levels were within normal physiological ranges in all treatments and tissue Cu and Zn concentrations increased with dietary IL (P < 0.05). Results indicate that Cu and Zn fecal concentrations were reduced by approximately 6-fold for Cu and by 2.5-fold for Zn by feeding 27 mg/kg Cu and 65 mg/kg Zn, in either the proteinate amino acid chelate or the sulfate form, compared with a diet containing 156 mg/kg Cu and 170 mg/kg Zn. This decrease in total dietary Cu and Zn did not reduce performance or mineral status of pigs.

(Received October 02 2007)

(Accepted August 11 2008)


c1 E-mail: A.Hernandez@murdoch.edu.au


* This project was funded in part by Alltech Biotechnology P/L. Dandenong South 3175, Australia.