Benefits for piglets when using TBCC diet additive

Adding 100 or 200 mg/kg of tribasic copper chloride (TBCC) to piglet weaning diets has been observed to be beneficial to piglets in various ways, US scientists report.
  • Average Daily Gain,
  • Feed Conversion Ratio (Grain:Feed) and
  • body weight gain, and also
  • helped reduce diarrhoea scores.

These outcomes were reported by Charmaine Espinosa and Prof Hans H. Stein, University of Illinois, United States. The study was done over a 4-week experimental period.

Alternative way of supplying copper to piglets
Tribasic copper chloride (TBCC) is an alternative way in which copper can be supplemented to piglets. The researchers wrote that usually supplemental copper is offered in the form of copper sulphate. TBCC, they wrote, has been shown to be equally effective and may even be more bio-available. Until recently, they said, it wasn’t really known how much of it should be fed to optimise performance.

Copper is essential for piglets as a micro nutrient. In addition, high dosages have been observed to improve growth performance, probably because of an antimicrobial effect in the intestinal tract, Espinosa and Stein wrote. Their experiment aimed to determine the effects of adding 100 or 200 mg/kg TBCC to diets fed to weanling pigs.

Trial with 150 weanling pigs
In their report, the researchers described how 150 weanling pigs with an average initial body weight of just over 10 kg were fed a common phase 1 diet for 14 days after weaning. On day 14 post-weaning, they wrote, pigs were randomly allotted to 3 dietary treatments:

  • The control diet was based on corn and soy bean meal;
  • The first additional diets consisted of the control diet plus 100 mg/kg TBCC;
  • The second additional diet consisted of the control diet plus 200 mg/kg TBCC.
Tribasic copper chloride (TBCC) can be beneficial for piglets in various ways. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Pigs were fed their respective diets for 28 days. Individual pig weights were recorded at the beginning of the experiment, after 14 days and at the conclusion of the experiment. Average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), and average gain:feed ratio (G:F) were calculated.

Diarrhoea scores were assessed visually every other day using a score from 1 to 5, with 1 being normal faeces and 5 being watery diarrhoea.

Better growth performance, less diarrhoea
Over the period of days 14-28, ADG, Feed Conversion Ratio (G:F), and final weight were greater for pigs fed diets containing 100 or 200 mg/kg TBCC compared with pigs fed the control diet (see Table 1). Final body weight on day 42 was also greater for pigs fed diets containing 100 or 200 mg/kg TBCC compared with pigs fed the control diet. No differences in growth performance were observed between diets containing 100 mg/kg TBCC and diets containing 200 mg/kg TBCC.

Control TBCC (mg/kg): 100 TBCC (mg/kg): 200 P-value
Day 14-28: Initial weight (kg) 10.214 10.23 10.221 0.844
Day 14-28: ADG (g) 359ᵇ 461ᵃ 464ᵃ 0.002
Day 14-28: ADFI (g) 872 873 883 0.991
Day 14-28: G:F 0.414ᵇ 0.530ᵃ 0.531ᵃ 0.005
Day 14-28: Final weight (kg) 15.251b 16.732a 16.710a 0.001
Day 28-42: ADG (g) 589 580 616 0.713
Day 28-42: ADFI (g) 950 1000 1056 0.163
Day 28-42: G:F 0.612 0.583 0.586 0.698
Day 28-42: Final weight (kg) 23.780ᵇ 25.199ᵃ 25.886ᵃ 0.006
Day 14-42: ADG (g) 485 525 538 0.174
Day 14-42: ADFI (g) 903 945 966 0.174
Day 14-42: G:F 0.542 0.55 0.561 0.614

Table 1 – Growth performance of pigs fed diets without additional copper or with 100 mg/kg or 200 mg/kg of tribasic copper chloride(TBCC).
ᵃ˒ᵇMeans within a row that do not have a common superscript differ, P<0.05

In the overall 4-week period, pigs fed diets containing 100 or 200 mg/kg TBCC had less severe diarrhoea scores than pigs fed the control diet (Table 2). In addition, pigs fed 100 mg/kg TBCC had diarrhoea on fewer days than pigs fed 200 mg/kg TBCC or the control diet.
Control TBCC (mg/kg): 100 TBCC (mg/kg): 200 P-value
Diarrhoea score: day 14-28 2.286 2.129 2.157 0.201
Diarrhoea score: day 28-42 2.171 2.057 2.071 0.129
Diarrhoea score: day 14-42 2.229ᵇ 2.093ᵃ 2.114ᵃ 0.037
Frequency of diarrhoea: day 14-28
Frequency of diarrhoea: Pen days 70 70 70
Frequency of diarrhoea: Frequency 25.71 12.86 21.43 0.153
Day 28-4: Pen days 70 70 70
Day 28-4: Frequency 11.43 2.86 7.14 0.144
Overall phase, day 14-42: Pen days 140 140 140
Overall phase, day 14-42: Frequency 18.57ᵇ 7.86ᵃ 14.29ᵃᵇ 0.031

Table 2 – Diarrhoea score and frequency (number of pen days with diarrhoea score) of diarrhoea of pigs fed diets without additional copper or with 100 mg/kg or 200 mg/kg of tribasic copper chloride(TBCC). Diarrhoea score = 1, normal faeces, 2, moist faeces, 3, mild diarrhoea, 4, severe diarrhoea, 5,watery diarrhoea. Pen days = number of pens × the number of days of diarrhoea scoring.
ᵃ˒ᵇMeans within a row that do not have a common superscript differ, P<0.05.

Source: Pig Progress, based on unpublished research by Charmaine Espinosa and Hans H. Stein.