EU approval for vaccine against boar taint
The European Commission has given Pfizer Animal Health the go-ahead to market its swine vaccine, Improvac®, across the European Union (EU).
In a press release, the company describes the vaccine as “providing a reduction of boar taint in male pigs while improving the profitability and sustainability of pig production as well as the welfare of pigs.”
By vaccinating the male piglets, the levels of androstenone and indirectly skatole - the two major boar taint compounds – are reduced below sensory thresholds. This means that physical castration would not be necessary.
Feed Conversion Ratio
The press release states that “the use of the vaccine means that male pigs can be raised to the same weight using less feed than for castrates, benefiting fully from the naturally better Feed Conversion Ratio of entire males, virtually without risk of tainted meat or of undesirable behaviour that male pigs express when reaching puberty.”
The first dose of the vaccine 'primes' the immune system but has little effect on the physiology of the pig; the second dose causes a significant and transitory antibody response, inducing the reduction of the concentration of the boar taint compounds and suppressing the boar-like undesirable behaviours.
The vaccine is now approved in 52 countries around the world, also in e.g. South Africa, Brazil, Australia and Mexico. Being a non-EU country, Switzerland was the first country in Europe to approve the vaccine.
Related news items:
EU: marketing authorisation for boar taint vaccine is near (24 April 2009)
Global control on boar taint series:
Part 1. Castration's impact on efficiency
Part 2. The castration issue
Part 3. Immunological castration
Part 4. Immunological castration in action
This series was published in Pig Progress, Vol 23, issues 3-6, published from April to August 2007.
Pfizer Animal Health
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