Danish try to find way around piglet castration
Several studies at the Danish University of Aarhus show that raising male
piglets without castration and selling their meat is most certainly
One study dealt with the question to slaughter male pigs early to avoid
castration, so before they are sexually mature.
In a study at the
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Aarhus, non-castrated male
pigs were slaughtered at a weight of maximum 45 kg. The pigs were organic and
had had a free-range existence with their littermates until slaughter. The meat
was therefore not only of a high gastronomic quality but also came from animals
with a high level of animal welfare.
was carried out at the organic research farm Rugballegaard belonging to the
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, and at commercial
organic farms. The quality of the meat was good.
The next step is to
ensure marketing possibilities. Once the farmer decides not to castrate his male
pigs, the animals cannot be sold as regular porkers to the slaughterhouses. In
addition, the carcass size does not fit into the routines at the
slaughterhouses. Therefore, solutions must be found at the slaughterhouses and
with regard to marketing.
"The price for this type of meat would without
a doubt be higher than present prices, but we believe the product is so good
that the consumers will demand it once they have tasted it," said project leader
John Hermansen from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.
financed by the Danish directorate for food, fisheries and agri business, the
animal protection agency, and Friland Food, will continue until 2009.
A second research at
the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, focused on the use
of using chicory roots from the chicory plant to reduce boar taint and thus to
make castration of male pigs redundant.
Boar taint is primarily caused by
androstenone and, in Danish pigs, primarily skatole, which is formed in the
pigs' intestinal flora. The sugar inulin, which is found in chicory roots,
inhibits the formation of skatole.
Results from studies show that a mere
week's feeding with chicory roots immediately prior to slaughter reduces
problems with boar taint. Two weeks of chicory feeding gives an even better
The intestinal flora is altered, which also results in fewer
intestinal parasites in the pigs. In addition, chicory roots reduce the
prevalence of swine dysentery and Lawsonia, which are two serious types
of diarrhoeal diseases.
In order for chicory to have an inhibitive
effect against these diseases, the pigs must be fed with it during the entire
period from weaning to slaughter.
The studies were carried out by
scientists from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences in collaboration with
scientists from the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and the
National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark.
The first results were published in 2005. Since then,
many farmers have shown interest in using chicory in their pig production.
However, there is still a need for further research and development of chicory
It is also necessary to investigate other natural alternatives to
castration. Studies indicate that feeding lupines to the pigs may also reduce
Organic farmers have been particularly interested in methods
that avoid castration. The studies are part of the organic research programme,
which is coordinated by the Danish Research Centre for Organic Food and Farming
and financed by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and
â€¢ University of Aarhus
â€¢ Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of
to the free Pig Progress
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