There are an increasing number of lobby groups in
various EU countries advocating the banning of castration of piglets
. On the 29th January the EU
commission SCFCAH working group held a closed meeting for member state officials
and invited speakers to consider the subject.
EU ban on 'tearing of tissue'
Up until that moment, they have not been supportive or
helpful, in fact the initial directive (2001/93/EC
) forbidding 'tearing of tissues' during the
procedure could be considered counterproductive to their concerns on welfare.
Element of tearing is
The essence of this kind of on-farm surgery is cleanliness, speed and
minimisation of tissue damage. Practical surgical experience shows that an
element of tearing of the spermatic cord causes elastic recoil of the spermatic
artery, which limits the potential loss of blood.
Having to cut or crush the cord introduces the possibility of further and
deeper wound contamination and the latter procedure also induces tissue
necrosis, which can act as a focus of infection.
Cutting or crushing causes piglet
Cutting or crushing, both reduce the speed of the operation and potentially
increase the stress caused to the piglet. It is therefore considered not
beneficial to the welfare of the pigs and therefore tearing of the tissues for
removal of the testis should be permitted.
Anaesthetics also have their
Local anaesthesia, by injection into the testicle can also induce pain
initially and after the surgery any discomfort rapidly returns after removal of
the testicle. It also slows the whole procedure and requires the pig to be
handled twice, once to inject and a second time to operate.
In some countries, like the UK, there are no licensed local anaesthetics
approved for use in pigs. Similarly, the whole procedure would be slowed down if
general anaesthetics were used, and even if there were products approved for
use, the complications with general anaesthesia of young piglets would outweigh
Good management and welfare reasons to allow
There are also good management and welfare reasons why
castration should be permitted, besides boar taint
and other 'off flavours' which can make pork
inedible. With the trend in the pig industry towards finishing pigs at higher
weights, there are genuine concerns that aggressive male riding behaviour has
the potential to seriously compromise the pig's welfare and can also induce
penile damage and haemorrhage and in certain cases, severe anal
Around the world, 500 million piglets are castrated each year, without
severe loss and these provide good quality, edible protein for the nutrition of
more than half the world.
What are your thoughts and comments?