Biotin: Role in Today’s Modern Swine Diet

Posted: February 4, 2019 | Written By: Gary Asche, Ph.D., Form-A-Feed Nutritionist


Biotin is a vitamin that is important for carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism through biotin dependent enzymes.   Biotin content in feed ingredients can be variable in both content and bioavailability.   Small grains have poor bioavailability of biotin, and in wheat and barley, it is almost totally unavailable.  Oilseed meal, alfalfa meal and dried yeast are good sources of biotin, although solvent extraction can destroy biotin.   It is considered a stable vitamin, although rancidity of feed can rapidly destroy it; thus, it is important to use added fats that are properly stabilized with antioxidants.

Signs of biotin deficiency in pigs can include hair loss, dry scaly skin, cracked hooves, foot lesions, reduced growth, impaired feed conversion and poor reproduction.   Biotin supplementation has been shown to be more beneficial in preventing foot lesions than curing existing foot problems.  This prevention relates mainly due to the slow growth of the hoof which requires 6 to 9 months for complete turn-over or regrowth of the hoof.

Biotin has been commonly added to sow and nursery diets for many years but has generally not been added to most growing and finishing diets.   In growing-finishing pigs, secondary infections can gain entry through hoof cracks resulting in joint infection and inflammation.  This infection is painful and leads to reduced mobility and significant lameness leading to variable pig weights at close-out, poorer feed conversion, less than full-value pigs or a higher finishing mortality.

Since 2018, Form-A-Feed has added biotin to all growing-finishing premixes as a potential aid in helping to reduce lameness issues.  The results have been positive as additional biotin has helped to increase the strength and hardness of the hoof wall which reduces both hoof cracks and lesions.   This has represented a significant value to our customers from a preventative approach. Form-A-Feed plans to continue to be at the forefront of innovation to help producers optimize pig performance and profitability.

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