Copper in this form improves young pigs' performance and health, study shows
By Kate Ayers
Copper hydroxychloride in weanling pigs’ diets improves growth and reduces diarrhea, University of Illinois (U of I) researchers found.
Copper is an important component of pigs’ diets and copper hydroxychloride is less reactive with other vitamins and minerals in mixed feed compared to the commonly used copper sulfate, according to a U of I release on Monday.
Researchers compared weanling pigs fed diets with 100, 150 or 200 mg/kg of copper hydroxychloride against a control group of pigs fed just enough copper to meet dietary requirements.
Over the 28 days of testing, the pigs fed copper hydroxychloride had higher final body weights, average daily feed intakes, and average daily gains than the control pigs, according to the release.
“The copper hydroxychloride is more available and easier for the pigs to digest and absorb. We see a very nice response to adding that source of copper to the diet,” Hans H. Stein, a professor in the department of animal sciences at U of I, said to Farms.com yesterday.
In addition, the pigs fed copper hydroxychloride had less incidence and reduced severity of diarrhea compared to the control group.
“We know that supplementing copper above their nutritional requirements improves growth performance, but it’s not clear why,” Stein said in the release.
“Our hypothesis was that the improvement in growth performance might be due to greater digestibility of gross energy and fat.”
However, the results did not prove this hypothesis so determining copper hydroxychloride’s mode of action requires further work, according to the release.
The researcher’s performance results were consistent with recent company-conducted trials, though.
“When we looked at copper sources, we see pigs fed copper hydroxychloride are, on average, over 850 g bigger than pigs fed copper sulfate. The cost to switch sources is minimal – less than five cents per pig in U.S. dollars,” Scott Fry of Micronutrients USA LLC, said in the release.
Research will conduct follow-up experiments in this area to better understand the mechanisms at work, according to Stein.
Micronutrients’ IntelliBond C was the copper hydroxychloride product used in the experiments.
Stein conducted the research along with Charmain Espinosa, a Ph. D student, and Fry and James Usry, both of Micronutrients USA LLC.
The full study was published in the Journal of Animal Science.
Updated Feb. 1, 2018