Minerals constitute a small percentage of swine diets, but their importance cannot be over-emphasized. Functions of minerals are extremely diverse, serving a variety of structural, metabolic, and regulatory functions in all body components. The mineral nutrition of pigs must be precise because adding excess minerals to the diet can be costly and cause toxicity while not providing enough minerals can result in deficiency and reduce productivity.
Minerals are classified into macrominerals and microminerals according to the amount required in the diet. Macrominerals or major minerals need to be supplied in larger amounts in swine diets, as is the case of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, and potassium. Microminerals or trace minerals need to be supplied in smaller amounts in swine diets, as is the case of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, iodine, and selenium. Chromium is also sometimes added to sow and finisher diets to improve performance. The requirements for and dietary concentrations of macrominerals are generally expressed as a percentage (%) of the diet, whereas microminerals are expressed as parts per million (ppm or mg/kg) or milligrams per pound (mg/lb) of diet.
Grains and oilseeds commonly used in swine diets are sources of macrominerals and trace minerals. However, the intrinsic minerals are often found at low concentration and availability in feedstuffs is questionable. Consequently, it is essential to balance the diets using supplemental mineral sources to meet the requirements.
A suggested trace mineral premix is available at KSU Premix & Diet Recommendations. This single premix can be used in diets for all stages of production by adjusting the inclusion rate for sow, nursery, grower, and finisher diets. In sow diets, a sow add pack is also included to supply the specific vitamins to enhance reproduction.
Trace minerals can be combined with vitamins in a VTM premix, but it is recommended to have separate premixes because trace minerals can affect the vitamin stability. Otherwise, VTM premix age must be monitored to ensure it is used before excess vitamin loss.