France – Castration only cure for boar taint

Around 170 delegates from the pig production chain attended a conference in St Brieuc, France, in early October, on the imminent ban on castration in the European Union. The event, organised by the French Institute for the Pig and Pork Industry (IFIP), gave an overview of this topical issue for Europe’s pig industry.

The question of how to avoid boar taint is a topical one, that was clear at the St Brieuc event in France. By Philippe Caldier. As is well explained in many of the articles in this issue of Pig Progress, boar taint can prove to be a problem for Europe’s pig industry. Michel Bonneau, IFIP, pointed this out clearly when introducing the event, called Arrêt de la castration des porcelets en élevage – which translates as ‘A halt to castration of growing piglets’, saying that the hormones skatole and androstenone pose some serious problems for the swine industry. These are linked to the occurrence of boar taint – which occurs in certain cases if male pigs are not castrated.Since a non-castration approach is what Europe is heading to, the question of how to avoid boar taint is a topical one – not only in France. In total, 278 publications have been made globally on the theme ‘boar taint’ between 2000 and 2012 – 40 of which are scientific publications in 2012. The majority of this research takes place in Europe, also Guelph, Ontario, Canada and Australia, zoom in on this issue.Several presentations emphasised the societal angle with regard to this issue.

Laurence Bonafos, DG Sanco (European Commission), spoke about the ‘Declaration of Brussels’, adopted in December 2010 by stakeholders from the swine industry in the EU, to stop the surgical castration of pigs by 2018, and to use anaesthesia or analgesia by 2012.

For the French market, production of entire male pigs is opening a new way of differentiation, explained Patrick Chevillon, IFIP. Demand for entire male pigs, however, is not clearly expressed by the domestic market (consumers, distributors, butchers and processors).He said that a distinct market may come into existence for carcasses and cuts of females, castrated and non-castrated pigs. He said, “Entire male pig production will intensively develop in the North European countries by 2018 – uncertainties about acceptance of this meat will continue to exist in the other European countries.”

Alternatives

Valérie Courboulay, IFIP, focused on possible alternatives to castration. Read more:  Meat Trade News 17 February 2013