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RAISING BOARS CONFERENCE: Netherlands

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In an increasing number of European countries the practice of castration is being discussed. Under pressure of animal welfare organisations, producers, processors, retailers and society as a whole are re-thinking the practice. On Wednesday, May 19, a group of 100 pig industry representatives met in the Netherlands to discuss and digest potential implications of entire boar finishing.

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  • Ede, the Netherlands, was the location for a one-day conference on a very topical issue:

    Ede, the Netherlands, was the location for a one-day conference on a very topical issue: 'Raising boars: implications for the pork industry and society.' The conference was organised by Schothorst Feed Research and the Dutch Board for Livestock and Meat.

  • Approximately 100 European experts from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and the UK were present to hear discuss thoughts and implications of a development that may well become the future of the whole of pig production in Europe.

    Approximately 100 European experts from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and the UK were present to hear discuss thoughts and implications of a development that may well become the future of the whole of pig production in Europe.

  • The conference was started by Laurence Bonafos, policy officer, animal welfare unit at the European Commission. She gave a clear update on the Commission

    The conference was started by Laurence Bonafos, policy officer, animal welfare unit at the European Commission. She gave a clear update on the Commission's recent projects Pigcas and Alcasde. The former aimed to get an overview of the theme of castration, whereas the latter looked for alternatives.

  • In this slide she showed which policy is applied towards piglet castration at the moment; there is no coherent picture, as the UK and Ireland do not allow it as all whereas the situation in Spain and Portugal is mixed.

    In this slide she showed which policy is applied towards piglet castration at the moment; there is no coherent picture, as the UK and Ireland do not allow it as all whereas the situation in Spain and Portugal is mixed.

  • Next, Dr Ronald Klont, director R&D at Vion Food in the Netherlands, explained how his company, being one of the world

    Next, Dr Ronald Klont, director R&D at Vion Food in the Netherlands, explained how his company, being one of the world's larger pork processors, endorses the aim to stop piglet castration, without jeopardising pork quality. He added that there is a need for a programme guaranteeing international market and consumer acceptance.

  • There are ways to influence boar taint, he said. Research at various farms in the Netherlands, he said, yielded that there is a difference in boar taint averages among farms. He concluded that genetics, feed and farm managements must all have their influence on the development of boar taint.

    There are ways to influence boar taint, he said. Research at various farms in the Netherlands, he said, yielded that there is a difference in boar taint averages among farms. He concluded that genetics, feed and farm managements must all have their influence on the development of boar taint.

  • Ge Backus, Wageningen University and Research Centre, then explained about the research programme carried out at the Netherlands

    Ge Backus, Wageningen University and Research Centre, then explained about the research programme carried out at the Netherlands' main agricultural university into boar taint and boar finishing.

  • Bo Ekstrand, head of the research unit Muscle Biology and Meat Science, Aarhus University, gave an introduction into the chemistry of boar taint

    Bo Ekstrand, head of the research unit Muscle Biology and Meat Science, Aarhus University, gave an introduction into the chemistry of boar taint's main components like androstenone and skatole.

  • Very interesting to know is that skatole has a short half time: in fat it is about 10-12 hours.

    Very interesting to know is that skatole has a short half time: in fat it is about 10-12 hours.

  • Ester Vinyeta, Schothorst Feed Research, summed up a large amount of researches in which feeding strategies and nutritional requirements of boars and barrows were compared. In general, boars appear not to grow faster but are more efficient; require a different feeding scheme than gilts or barrows and their meat is leaner and has a higher muscle content.

    Ester Vinyeta, Schothorst Feed Research, summed up a large amount of researches in which feeding strategies and nutritional requirements of boars and barrows were compared. In general, boars appear not to grow faster but are more efficient; require a different feeding scheme than gilts or barrows and their meat is leaner and has a higher muscle content.

  • The addition of various ingredients in feed is known to reduce the effect of androstenone and skatole, like e.g. raw potato starch or chicory inulin. Ongoing studies are being published to get to know more about the exact functioning.

    The addition of various ingredients in feed is known to reduce the effect of androstenone and skatole, like e.g. raw potato starch or chicory inulin. Ongoing studies are being published to get to know more about the exact functioning.

  • Prof Sandra Edwards, Newcastle University, UK, approached the issue of castration or using alternatives from a more ethical point of view; what does it mean for the different stakeholders, viewed from perspectives of well-being, autonomy and justice.

    Prof Sandra Edwards, Newcastle University, UK, approached the issue of castration or using alternatives from a more ethical point of view; what does it mean for the different stakeholders, viewed from perspectives of well-being, autonomy and justice.

  • She presented this scheme

    She presented this scheme 'and eventually reached the conclusion that growing entires meets more than half of the stakeholders' interests, with sperm sorting meeting four. Surgical castration only meets three, she concluded.

  • Paul Toplis, Primary Diets, UK, presented practical experiences from UK farms

    Paul Toplis, Primary Diets, UK, presented practical experiences from UK farms' as boar finishing is common there. He said UK producers look to the practice of castration as 'something of the past'. He said that the European perception of getting more aggressive and sexual behaviour in pens does not tally with reality in Britain, as producers do not feel it is an issue at all.

  • In addition, like many others this day, he said that there is no relationship between boar taint and growth rate. Quick growers will be slaughtered earlier than slow growers; it

    In addition, like many others this day, he said that there is no relationship between boar taint and growth rate. Quick growers will be slaughtered earlier than slow growers; it's the age of an animal determining whether it will develop skatole and androstenone, not its size.

  • Dr Ir Piet van der Aar, Schothorst Feed Research, summarised the conference

    Dr Ir Piet van der Aar, Schothorst Feed Research, summarised the conference's major conclusions and said nowadays consumers have become food chain drivers. He also said a re-think of the necessity of current castration practices may be useful anyway as animals reach slaughterweight much quicker than 40 years ago, amino acids have been added to feed and pigs are not fed in the last hours before slaughter.

by Vincent ter Beek last update:Jun 21, 2011

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