Approximately 40% of all male piglets born in the Netherlands are not castrated anymore. This figure was revealed by Dr Gé Backus (pictured), Wageningen University & Research Centre, at the start of the Boars Heading for 2018 conference.
The conference, held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Nov 30 and Dec 1, brings together 150 international experts, mainly from Europe, to discuss about the future of boar raising. In the European Union, piglet castration will be banned by 2018.
The Netherlands paved the way for this ban, which was agreed to voluntarily by stakeholders from all 27 countries of the European Union in the end of December 2009. In the Netherlands, a similar development had led to a similar agreement in 2007.
As a result, the vast majority of retail chains in the Netherlands do not sell pork from barrows anymore – those pigs castrated end up in other market segments, predominantly exports.
Backus said that despite the decision to go for boar meat, and risk boar taint – pork meat consumption has been still the same, and retail organisations have reported to be satisfied. In addition, pig farmers have felt lower feed costs as boars grow more efficiently – and production has happened more sustainably.
The topic is ‘hot’ in Europe, Backus said as many new research projects are being started up to get to know more about the topic of boar taint and how to avoid it.
Backus briefly summarised that every year in the EU, 100 million piglets are castrated. He added, since boars grow more efficiently, in the situation of castration 700,000 ha of more land is needed to produce the additional feed.
He said that castration is performed throughout the EU with the exception of the UK and Ireland. In Spain and Portugal, about 30% of the male piglets is castrated.
The first speaker of the night was Mr Andrea Gavinelli, head of the unit Animal Welfare, DG Health and Consumers, European Commission.