Dietetic Copper preserved as a solution in pig nutrition and support health management

On 23 July 2018, the revised maximum permitted levels of copper in complete feeds were published in the Official Journal of the European Union. In line with EFSA’s recommendations for soil protection, the maximum levels were lowered to 25 mg/kg for all ages of pigs, but the political agreement allows permitted levels of 150 mg/kg up to four weeks after weaning and 100 mg/kg up to eight weeks after weaning. This ensures feed manufacturers can incorporate adequate levels of copper for piglets to support their nutrition and good health in the most sensitive period of their life, while minimizing the impact on the environment.

FEFAC Chairman of the Animal Nutrition Committee, Predrag Persak: “FEFAC played a key role in convincing decision makers that a tailor-made approach for inclusion rates of copper in piglet feed is justified to preserve this particular animal nutrition solution to support optimal animal health management. Dietetic copper is an essential trace element in compound feed production and adequate levels thereof in piglet feed will maintain good performance and can reduce the occurrence of post-weaning diarrhoea, which would need to be treated with antibiotics”.

The members of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) were unanimously in favour of the European Commission’s proposal, showing the broad acknowledgment for FEFAC’s argumentation that dietetic copper can play a crucial role to maintain piglet health within the context of antimicrobial resistance.

FEFAC Animal Nutrition Committee Expert Erik Dam Jensen: “From an early legislative stage we identified a clear risk for the health management of the pig farming sector if the copper levels for piglets would be lowered to 25 mg/kg. With help of the study performed by Bikker et al. (2015) and our own impact assessment, FEFAC demonstrated to the authorities that lowering the copper levels in piglet feed too soon and too much would be very critical on pig health management and performance, while present only marginal environmental gains because of the small amount of feed they consume”.