“Stopping castration in the European Union will only succeed if everyone inside and outside the production chain cooperates on market acceptance and knowledge, and exchanges experiences and information.” According to Annechien ten Have, Chairman of the Dutch Stuurgroep Stoppen Met Castreren [Stopping Castration Work Group] there are two crucial success factors for stopping castration in the EU in 2018. Ten Have made this comment during a meeting with the European trade press in the Netherlands on 17 and 18 April 2013.
Stopping castration offers nothing but advantages to pig farmers. Unpleasant, labour intensive work can be avoided and operating results can improve. NGOs are also in favour of not intervening (in the welfare of) the animal. Slaughterhouses focus on, among other things, meat quality and market acceptance. A European survey conducted by the Eurogroup for Animals and Wageningen University and Research Centre demonstrated that market parties think stopping castration is an irreversible process.
Acceptance by retail and industry
During the meeting, Ten Have outlined the European approach. “There is cooperation in all manner of fields. Information is exchanged between NGOs, farmer’s organisations, slaughterhouses and researchers. The crucial success factor is however the acceptance of meat from uncastrated pigs by buyers such as retailers and the industry in Europe. We have to demonstrate that the quality of boar meat is good.” According to Ten Have one of the barriers is the fact that uniform detection methods for boar taint have not been introduced Europe-wide. “In Germany the protocol has already been incorporated into the QS quality system. In the Netherlands, incorporation into the IKB would be logical,” says Ten Have.
Annechien ten Have is a pig farmer and has been raising boars (uncastrated pigs) at her farm since 1995. “At the time, pig farmers had good reasons for employing castration, but that doesn’t mean things have to stay that way. We now know that we can guarantee excellent meat quality using a good detection method. Other than that, not castrating piglets only has advantages.”