Preventing boar taint

To prevent boar taint, young male pigs in the majority of the EU countries are surgically castrated (with and without anaesthetics). In castrated pigs, no androstenone and less skatole are formed.

There are many ways to (help to) prevent boar taint, such as

  • Castration without anaesthetics: In order to prevent boar taint, young male pigs in the majority of EU countries are surgically castrated. This affects some hundred million animals annually.
  • Castration under anesthetic: Castration causes demonstrably less pain and stress if an anesthetic is used.
  • Slaughtering young: in countries as Great Britain and Ireland, male pigs are not castrated; they are slaughtered at a lower weight (up to a slaughter weight of 85 kg).
  • Breeding: The content of androstenone and skatole has been found to be inheritable. This means that they can be bred for. a�?Genomic selectiona�� also offers that prospect, all the more so because a great deal is already known about the genome of the pig.
  • Immuno neutralization: There is a vaccine in existence that (indirectly) strongly inhibits testicle growth and thus the production of androstenone. This method has long been used in Australia, for example, and has proved to be reliable.
  • Management measures: A generous water supply, good hygiene and adjusted feed can contribute to a lower skatole content.
  • Sexing of semen: It is theoretically possible to select only female semen before fertilization. Research experiences do not lead one to suppose that such a method will be feasible for pigs in the short term.
  • Detection on the slaughter line: Boar taint in the (heated) consumer product can also be avoided by detecting all the boars with boar taint in the slaughterhouse, and only use products of these boars for processed meat that not has to be heated. This would enable a a�?boar taint-freea�� guarantee to be given for the remaining meat products.

There are widely different views within European countries on alternatives for the castration of male pigs.