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Germany: Abandonment of piglet castration realistic

The German meat industry continues to be optimistic about the feasibility of a pig industry without the castration practice in young male piglets.

German food quality watchdog Quality and Security (QS) concluded this on the basis of results of a one-day workshop, called 'Abandonment of piglet castration – status and perspectives', held November 11, in Berlin, Germany, in which last two years' efforts were evaluated. In Germany, as well as in other countries around North Western Europe, alternatives are being researched for boar castration.

Abolish castration
QS has a function of coordinating activities to abolish castration. The organisation spoke at the workshop, which was set up together with the German Federal Ministry for Nutrition, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Another 200 participants from science, politics, pig industry, slaughterhouses, animal welfare groups and foodstuffs retailing trade were present to discuss progress since 2008.

In that year, in the German city of Düsseldorf, a statement was made to strive for abolition of castration. In the phase leading up to this, pain killers would have to be given to piglets; anaesthetics is a practice the Germans denounce. Warnings to e.g. Belgian slaughterhouses and processors have already indicated that e.g. Vion Food in Germany is not yet ready for using vaccination against boar taint.

Isoflurane
There was unanimity amongst the experts that the market should not be fragmented. Apart from rearing the entire male population or anaesthesia by inhalation (isoflurane) also need to be further evaluated for their suitability on a transition basis.

Massive support for further research is a must, QS acknowledged. Potential solutions for the quality problem in boar meat would be the development of an electronic 'nose' and an adjustment of breeding genetics. Apart from that, a plea has been launched for having trained  people perform taint detection at the slaughterline.

Related websites:
QS
Vion Food

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