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PHOTO REPORT - BOARS HEADING FOR 2018: The Netherlands

Europe still has a long way to go to make sure that piglet castration is completely banned by 2018. That can be concluded after the conference 'Boars Heading for 2018'.

 

 

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  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was the venue for this rather unique conference. Propelled by the Dutch, last year, a total of 28 stakeholders in the EU, representing all parts of the feed-to-food chain, voluntarily agreed on a ban of castration of male piglets by 2018. In addition, between 2012 and 2018, they agreed to apply either anaesthetics or anaelgethics to relieve the pain.

    Amsterdam, the Netherlands, was the venue for this rather unique conference. Propelled by the Dutch, last year, a total of 28 stakeholders in the EU, representing all parts of the feed-to-food chain, voluntarily agreed on a ban of castration of male piglets by 2018. In addition, between 2012 and 2018, they agreed to apply either anaesthetics or anaelgethics to relieve the pain.

  • Now the question is – how to move on and how to find acceptable alternatives? 150 representatives from different stakeholders gathered to discuss the questions. Each of the speakers had a different message, as opinions and market acceptance vary widely, uniform definitions and standards need to be found, market acceptance is not common - and THE answer does not exist (yet).

    Now the question is – how to move on and how to find acceptable alternatives? 150 representatives from different stakeholders gathered to discuss the questions. Each of the speakers had a different message, as opinions and market acceptance vary widely, uniform definitions and standards need to be found, market acceptance is not common - and THE answer does not exist (yet).

  • First speaker in the conference was Andrea Gavinelli, head of the unit Animal Welfare, at the DG Health and Conusmers, European Commission. His department within the European Union focuses on boar taint related research, like Pigcas and Alcasde. He also mentioned a EU-grant of €1.3 million and explained for what research projects this money is going to be used.

    First speaker in the conference was Andrea Gavinelli, head of the unit Animal Welfare, at the DG Health and Conusmers, European Commission. His department within the European Union focuses on boar taint related research, like Pigcas and Alcasde. He also mentioned a EU-grant of €1.3 million and explained for what research projects this money is going to be used.

  • Dr Gé Backus, LEI, Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, has been one of the driving forces behind the conference. He gave an overview of the matter of castration and explained that a similar voluntary agreement in the Netherlands in 2007 had paved the way for the European declaration. In the Netherlands, about 40% of the male piglets is now not castrated any more.

    Dr Gé Backus, LEI, Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands, has been one of the driving forces behind the conference. He gave an overview of the matter of castration and explained that a similar voluntary agreement in the Netherlands in 2007 had paved the way for the European declaration. In the Netherlands, about 40% of the male piglets is now not castrated any more.

  • Michel Courat, Eurogroup for Animals, explained why his organisation at the time had signed the agreement. He had a number of critical remarks, e.g. that the number of signatures needs to rise, he would like retailers and consumer groups to join; he wondered what will happen to the 2012 agreements on anaesthetics; and he emphasised the need for annual, independent reporting on the progress.

    Michel Courat, Eurogroup for Animals, explained why his organisation at the time had signed the agreement. He had a number of critical remarks, e.g. that the number of signatures needs to rise, he would like retailers and consumer groups to join; he wondered what will happen to the 2012 agreements on anaesthetics; and he emphasised the need for annual, independent reporting on the progress.

  • Marcello Marchesi, pork producer from Italy, gave an Italian perspective. Italian pigs on average are heavier than average due to the production for Parma hams. A non-castration policy would make the production of Parma hams virtually impossible. He explained why using immunovaccination (Improvac, Pfizer) is not a good alternative either, as the testes still need to be cut out.

    Marcello Marchesi, pork producer from Italy, gave an Italian perspective. Italian pigs on average are heavier than average due to the production for Parma hams. A non-castration policy would make the production of Parma hams virtually impossible. He explained why using immunovaccination (Improvac, Pfizer) is not a good alternative either, as the testes still need to be cut out.

  • And how about the situation in Germany? Hubert Kelliger, head of sales at meat processor Westfleisch, spoke about the 'Aktion Tierwohl', an animal welfare programme for the pigs. And what about castration? He said that nowadays, 2,500-3,000 boars are slaughtered every week. In comparison to the company's size, this is a moderate amount.

    And how about the situation in Germany? Hubert Kelliger, head of sales at meat processor Westfleisch, spoke about the 'Aktion Tierwohl', an animal welfare programme for the pigs. And what about castration? He said that nowadays, 2,500-3,000 boars are slaughtered every week. In comparison to the company's size, this is a moderate amount.

  • One of the big protagonists of the 'ban castration' campaign in the Netherlands has been Annechien ten Have, Dutch organisation for agriculture and horticulture (LTO). She has been raising boars herself since 1995. Yes, she admitted, boars behave differently than gilts. So what? Let's get used to it. Raising boars works, she said.

    One of the big protagonists of the 'ban castration' campaign in the Netherlands has been Annechien ten Have, Dutch organisation for agriculture and horticulture (LTO). She has been raising boars herself since 1995. Yes, she admitted, boars behave differently than gilts. So what? Let's get used to it. Raising boars works, she said.

  • The morning session with speakers was closed off by Dr Angels Oliver, IRTA, Spain. She gave an overview of the research carried out by IRTA and touched on the special position for outdoor pigs in the south of Spain.

    The morning session with speakers was closed off by Dr Angels Oliver, IRTA, Spain. She gave an overview of the research carried out by IRTA and touched on the special position for outdoor pigs in the south of Spain.

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