Good news for male pigs – castration not necessary

Date of publication : 4/11/2008
Source : University of Aarhus / Agricultural Sciences news
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If male pigs are slaughtered early they can avoid castration.

Farmers are not keen on castrating piglets but the task has been necessary. Anyone who has tried to prepare or eat boar meat can recall the unpleasant smell of boar taint. The odour is due to skatole, which is a compound found in adult boars.

But what if we eat the pigs before they are sexually mature?

In a study at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Aarhus, non-castrated male pigs were slaughtered at a weight of maximum 45 kg. The pigs were organic and had had a free-range existence with their littermates until slaughter. The meat was therefore not only of a high gastronomic quality but also came from animals with a high level of animal welfare.

The study was carried out at the organic research farm Rugballegaard belonging to the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, and at commercial organic farms. The quality of the meat was good. The next step is to ensure marketing possibilities. Once the farmer decides not to castrate his male pigs, the animals cannot be sold as regular porkers to the slaughterhouses. In addition, the carcass size does not fit into the routines at the slaughterhouses. Therefore, solutions must be found at the slaughterhouses and with regard to marketing.

"The price for this type of meat would without a doubt be higher than present prices, but we believe the product is so good that the consumers will demand it once they have tasted it",  says project leader John Hermansen from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.

"We are now working with the industry to find a way to slaughter and sell the meat. But even though there are practical problems to be solved, we can see that it is possible to produce meat from non-castrated male pigs".

The project is financed by The Directorate for Food, Fisheries and Agri Business, the Animal Protection Agency, and Friland Food, and will continue until 2009.

For more information please contact head of research unit John Hermansen, Department of Agroecology and Environment, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus.

April 14, 2008
Why taking so much trouble to deal with this problem? Pfizer Animal Health is now marketing a vaccine that can solve this odour problem with two injections.
May 3, 2008
Before 150 days of age the meat don't have taste of male pig.
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