Boars information ready for use

Gé Backus

From January 1, 2019 pigs in Germany may no longer be castrated without anesthesia. This is enshrined in German law. Major retailers such as Rewe, Edeka Südwest, Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd want to take the step towards non-castration two years earlier. Animal protection organizations play an important role in this process.

In Germany, however, a number of stakeholders inside the production chain wonder whether the deadline is realistic. On June 9, 2016 the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin organized a symposium on the theme of castration. All the links in the German pork chain were involved. Positions, opportunities and threats were discussed. Two German agricultural magazines TopAgrar and SUS published large articles in which the complexity and the various dilemmas were discussed. The articles can be read on the site of Boars2018.

The German trade press is clear. Parties should move and not sit on their hands. The ban on castration without anesthesia is “ein heisses Thema” (a hot issue).

Various parties in the German pig chains brought their concerns forward to emphasize that there are many questions and there is little information available to make choices. Some parties in Germany are now seeing boars on the road. This is comparable to the situation a few years ago in the Netherlands.

Boars 2018 is an initiative with the aim to stop castration of male pigs in Europe by promoting international market acceptance of meat from boars. In many countries in recent years research funded by the EU has also been conducted on the possibilities and consequences of non-castration. The research during the last years gradually unraveled myths and uncertainties about boar taint. To continuously draw the attention on the available knowledge and experiences in Europe, the information was bundled and actively shared via the website Boars2018.com, lectures, press trips and media coverage.

As project leader research for Boars2018 it is my role and responsibility to lead research, analyze results and come up with concrete recommendations to realize the ambition of Boars 2018. The quality and image of pork has the highest priority and is the golden standard. This principle is of utmost importance. Within the international Expert Group set up by the EU we have, together with leading institutes, gathered knowledge and research results around stopping castration. That information is made available to all market parties and production chains in Europe.

Germany has made a clear choice and is on the move when it comes to castration. As of 2019 there is a ban on castration without anesthesia. There are approximately two years to go. We have experienced in the Netherlands that it is possible. Questions about our experiences with non-castration are welcome at info@boars2018.com