Boar taint and also the castration debate Adapting pig manufacturing to consumer demands for pet welfare is one of the main challenges for the european pork it is provided chain – and one that the greatest questions in this area is whether, and also how, to prevent surgical castration.

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11 July 2019
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By: Matthew Wedzerai

Surgical castration of masculine pigs is generally performed to stop boar taint, or the offensive odour of pork found in sexually maturation boars. As result of its painful and also stressful nature, the practice has been receiving criticism from worldwide organisations for pet protection and also welfare. As a result, alternate strategies to alleviate boar taint are being deployed. However, this strategies bring with them part pros and cons, and also the topic has actually been the subject of much debate among stakeholders connected in the pork chain. Producing entire males is more lucrative and reliable than increasing castrates, but whole males negatively affect meat quality due to the visibility of boar taint (Lundström et al., 2009).

ReferencesReferencesALCASDE reportAndresen Ø.European CommissionEurogroup for AnimalsEuropean Food safety Authority (EFSA)Jensen B.B.Lundström K. And also Zamaratskaia G.Wageningen UniversityZamaratskaia G. And also Squires E.J.
(2009)Study on the boosted methods for animal friendly production, in details on options to the castration of pigs and also on choices to the dehorning cattle.. SANCO18:1-65
(2006)Boar taint connected compounds: Androstenone/skatole/other substances.. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica48(1):5
(2019)Establishing best practices on the production, the processing and the marketing of meat native uncastrated pigs or pigs vaccinated against boar taint (immunocastrated).
(2004)Welfare facets of the castration that piglets. Clinical Report that the scientific Panel for animal Health and Welfare ~ above a inquiry from the Commission related to Welfare elements of the Castration that Piglets (Question N8 EFSA-Q-2003-091). The EFSA Journal91:1-18
(2006)Prevention of boar taint in pig production. Determinants affecting the level the skatole.. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica48(1):6
(2006)Moving towards taint-free pork – options to operation castration.. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica48(1):6
(2013)Results that the 5-year Dutch study programme 'Boars heading for 2018'
(2009)Biochemical, nutritional and also genetic impacts on boar taint in entire male pigs.. Animal3:1508-1521

What is boar taint?

Boar taint is a defect affecting particular sensory nature of meat (odour and taste). It deserve to be discerned as soon as the meat is cooked or eaten and is considered unpleasant by some consumers. Two main compounds space responsible because that boar taint: androstenone and skatole. Androstenone is a masculine steroid pheromone while skatole is a by-product the tryptophan line in the huge intestine (EFSA, 2004; Andersen, 2006). The an ext mature the pig becomes, the much more of these compounds are produced, specifically androstenone; this is the main reason castration is done. Carcasses from entire males room not embraced in many of the markets because of boar taint risk.

Boar taint is a defect affecting details sensory properties of meat (odour and also taste). It can be discerned once the meat is cook or eaten and is taken into consideration unpleasant by some consumers

The debate

Consumer perception

The main comes to driving the instance for finishing surgical castration are a consideration for the pigs’ welfare – and also consumers’ late of just how castration influence this — and also the truth that boar taint can impact the taste and also smell of meat. However, together an disability to the product, boar taint is also subjective: androstenone can be detected by 90 percent of women but only 50 percent the men, which way many people’s taste preference is not affected by boar taint. Some studies imply that what you review is what you odor – an interpretation that product information can affect consumers’ top quality perception (Wageningen University, 2013). In the same study, it was revealed the if they are not informed around boar taint, consumers’ views around the accept of castration differ widely. This prompts the question: for those consumers who space not informed around boar taint, and also are unable to finding it, walk its visibility make any type of difference to just how they experience the product?

Who in the pork chain cares?

Similarly, is boar taint the equal problem to all the stakeholders in the pork chain? from a farmer’s point of view, rearing whole males can be a much better prospect, together they mitigate feed expenses due to faster growth, they transform feed more efficiently and also they produce leaner carcasses compared to castrates (Lundström et al., 2009; Zamaratskaia and also Squires, 2009). This method to agriculture would additionally probably please environmentalists who see much less nitrogen in manure from whole males compared to castrated males.

But, top top the other hand, boars deserve to show more aggressive behaviour contrasted to castrated pigs i beg your pardon are much easier to manage, especially throughout transport and also lairage (ALCASDE, 2009) and also usually results in fewer meat high quality defects such together PSE or DFD.

Pig welfare and castration

It is well known that castration negatively affects the welfare standing of the animals and also society’s growing issue for animal is making a solid case for finishing castration. But, looking in ~ it closely, it appears that the perception that castration is a bad thing all at once is mainly driven through the lack of pains relief supplied when conducting castration steps on plenty of farms. Together a result, together of 2019 Germany will certainly no longer permit castration there is no anaesthesia (Eurogroup for Animals, 2018). Additionally, if the pigs space not given both anaesthesia and analgesia for castration, it is unlikely that their welfare will be substantially improved. At the same time (using Germany together an example), this decision will certainly also influence imports come the nation – negative affecting various other sectors in the pork chain.

By banning castration, the market would be removing one resource of pain and distress that piglets are subjected to whilst likewise eliminating one of the techniques by which disease can gain into young pigs. However keeping males intact and also growing castle to heavier weights at puberty additionally invites much more aggressive behaviour towards each other, resulting in stress that might additionally jeopardise your welfare.

As of 2019 Germany will no longer enable castration there is no anaesthesia

Castration techniques other 보다 surgical

Surgical castration there is no anaesthesia or analgesia is a painful and stressful procedure, as confirmed by a series of physiological and also behavioural alters that are plainly indicative of pain and also stress. The adhering to castration methods show up to it is in better, yet they are likewise not perfect.

Immunocastration: this is administered with the injection that a vaccine before slaughter, and also it inhibits testosterone secretion and also testicular duty and development. This would mitigate the pain and also stress brought about by operation castration on-farm which is mostly where the welfare comes to lie. Yet there is a feeling of unease neighboring immunocastration, and there is part debate as to whether the injections carry out not inflict pain and stress.

Chemical castration: this is composed of injecting chemicals resulting in local destruction of testicular tissue. In regards to welfare, it is challenging to draw definitive conclusions as more research is required to recognize whether this practice reasons pain (FAWEC, 2019). Complications can include injection-site lesions, dealing with stress come the pigs and also the hazard of self-injection to the stockperson.

Alternative tactics to mitigate boar taint

Besides immunocastration and chemical castration, other strategies exist which center on breeding and also nutrition – but what space their pros and also cons?

Breeding and genetics

Selection: reproduction values ~ above androstenone and skatole can be estimated. Preferential an option on those family members that have low levels of this hormonal products can alleviate the incidence the boar taint. Also, avoiding breeds v high boar taint such as Duroc, and also choosing breeds with a reduced incidence that boar taint, such as the Pietrain breed, can aid reduce that is prevalence.

Breeding females (sperm sexing): this technique consists of inseminating sows through sexed sperm so the they create only woman offspring. While sperm sexing might prove to it is in a good solution in the long term, the is not yet viable in practice. There are additionally ethical concerns.

Gene-editing: pigs could be gene-edited so the they do not reach sexual maturity, and this can reduce the incidence that androstenone and also skatole in male pigs. This method is still being researched (although it has actually been used to other issues in pig production).

The Pietrain breed has been associated with reduced incidences of boar taint in meat created from this breed


It help to formulate a diet that’s specific to her breed and also to prevent supplements the are recognized to boost boar taint. Because that example, skatole, and also in some situations androstenone, can be reduced by changing the tryptophan level in swine diets. Feeding chicory (inulin) has actually a far-reaching effect in reduce skatole levels in the fat.

Farm-level management

Same-sex groups: ensures every boars are faced at once, making testing more efficient. Yet on the other hand this might be an overwhelming for farmers that raise your pigs in mixed groups.

Low-stress environments: increased stress has actually been linked with higher levels of taint.

Reducing competition in ~ feeding: this to reduce stress, hence boar taint – however installing extra feeding tools is costly.

Slaughterhouses management

Uncastrated pigs: equipment to finding boar taint deserve to be implemented at the slaughterhouses, wherein carcasses that test positive have the right to be quantified and managed.

Vaccinated pigs: equipment to inspect assurances from farmers the pigs vaccinated against it carry out not in truth contain boar taint.

Penalties for boar taint: wherein these can be applied, they should be merged with optimistic incentives come encourage farmers to raise whole males.

Legislation and outlook in the EU

Animal welfare about surgical castration has actually been a longstanding policy of the EU. Because 1 January 2012 the european Commission (EC) has actually mandated the surgical castration that pigs should be perform with prolonged analgesia and/or anaesthesia – but this has actually not been completed to day in some European countries. The EC has additionally stated that surgical castration the pigs should be exit by 1 January 2018 – this has actually not been accomplished either.

However, the EC’s ongoing intention is to lug surgical castration to an end by do the following tools available:

mutually recognised approaches for the evaluate of boar taint;European standardised methods for the measurement of each of the compound responsible for boar taint; rapid-detection approaches for boar taint at slaughter plants; palliation of boar taint compounds by pig breeding and/or management and feeding; efficient management of entire males throughout rearing, transport and at slaughter, to minimise sexual and also aggressive behaviours.

In addition, the EC is working to for sure a sustainable and competitive pig meat chain in the EU. That is hoped that a european partnership on pig castration, supported and also funded through the europe Commission, will be established in bespeak to:

ensure the accept of products from pigs not surgically castrated by authorities and also consumers in the europe Union (but additionally in third-country markets); agree on a common definition of boar taint;perform or name: coordinates research and development;develop information and also training because that farmers and also other stakeholders in the pork chain.

Eurogroup for Animals

In line through the europe Commission’s goals on castration outlined above, Eurogroup for animals (EA), with its flagship project End Pig Pain, invites individuals to sign a petition asking the EU to support a EU-wide half on surgical piglet castration through 2024. Upon getting to 1 million signatures, the petition will certainly be handed over to the european Commission.

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Final remarks

Adopting the idea of finishing castration counts on the industry you’re in – all industries are entirely different and also have distinctive products. The UK and Ireland, because that example, room running entire-male herds.Consumer demand and preference are the main components of whether adopting the rearing of whole males will certainly be achieved. Some experts have said that to reduce boar taint ~ above a helpful level take away a multi-factorial approach whereby every stakeholder in the pork chain should play a part.New technology such together gene editing could offer a better solution to surgical castration – however, its applicability is still under review. To ensure a sustainable pig-meat chain, strategies have to be occurred to reduce the compounds responsible for boar taint, encourage production and also management equipment that minimise sexual and aggressive behaviour in whole males and also develop an globally recognised method for detecting boar taint at slaughter plants that is quick, easy, cheap and reliable.In the end, the financial benefits that the techniques to end boar taint should be convincing come the stakeholders involved.