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2083 views last update:Nov 2, 2006

Boar taint is a risk too high

If you don't castrate you run the risk of boar taint - 50% of uncastrated boars in Australasia exceeded the sensory threshold level of androstenone and skatole, the chemicals that cause boar taint. In some Irish work almost 1 in 10 carcasses will be severely tainted.

If you don't castrate you run the risk of boar taint. In a recent Pig Progress article (Vol.22 no.5 pg.6) there was an excellent graph demonstrating that 50% of uncastrated boars in Australasia exceeded the sensory threshold level of androstenone and skatole, the chemicals that cause boar taint. In some Irish work, as high as 57% of boar meat samples showed some degree of taint and 18% showed severe taint, i.e. almost 1 in 10 carcasses will be severely tainted.
In the EFSA extensive report 'Welfare aspects of the castration of piglets' there is an exceptional review of the situation. Few countries in the EU don't castrate, the UK and Ireland are the major ones and that means over 100 million pigs are castrated each year. It says that the British do not appear to be put off by taint, but I can assure you that a substantial number of people are and they have voted with their feet and don't buy fresh pork or only gilt meat if they can, and this includes pig farmers and quality pork butchers in Yorkshire (sometimes referred to as Porkshire). Pork is the second cheapest meat in the UK after chicken, but we have the lowest consumption of pork per inhabitant in the EU 15 (Eurostat, 2006), at almost half that of poultry meat and almost the same as the more expensive beef and veal.
The report also says that we have a viable industry in the UK even though we don't castrate, but unfortunately our industry has collapsed 43% over the last 10 years and is struggling to survive. Seventy five per cent of our added-value, processed products, such as ham and bacon, are now from imported pork. One solution mentioned in the report was to use boar meat for further processing, but processors do not want to take that risk.
I can only advise countries that are considering banning castration, not to, or consider alternatives such as immuno-castration, but even that is not fool proof.
 

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