France: Many pig producers consider to stop castrating

31-07-2020 | | |
A farm keeping its male pigs entire. - Photo: Ronald Hissink
A farm keeping its male pigs entire. - Photo: Ronald Hissink

10 pig producers’ organisations in Western France are considering to stop castrating piglets as from December 31, 2021. The organisations represent a respectable part of the country’s producers.

The producers’ collectives sent a letter to their members with these proposals on June 23. The letter was signed by Agrial, Eureden, Elpor, Evel‘Up, GRPPO, Porcinéo, Porélia, Syproporcs, Porvéo and Porc Armor Evolution. Altogether those organisations are producing 12 million pigs jointly.

Response to usage of mandatory anaesthetics

The proposal of the 10 organisations is a reaction to a decision by Didier Guillaume, France’s minister for agriculture and food. His aim is to improve animal welfare in France’s pig industry and one of his measures is that, after 2021, castration will only be allowed when anaesthetics are applied.

Further details about the plan to quit castrating altogether are not known yet. The intention is that the basis price for pigs will be adjusted. The collectives feel that gilts as well as entire boars will form the reference for pig prices as from 2021.

The slaughterhouses will become the place for checks whether or not carcasses will have boar taint, these could be detected by sniffing at the slaughterline by humans. Additional costs of these checks will be carried jointly by the pig farms that stopped castrating.

Exceptions to the pig castration plan

Exceptions to the declaration are still possible. In case a certain market requires castrates, this will still be possible. For those pigs, an extra price will have to be paid in order to compensate for the additional costs of anaesthetics.

Have you already participated in the NCSU survey on castration?

It is unclear yet to which degree entires will become commonplace in France. The letter does not speak about slaughterhouses as well as processors. The meat industry in general has proved to be reluctant to run risks with boar tainted pork, French media report.

Should the plans, however, succeed then a breakthrough has been achieved. Currently only the French market leader Cooperl is the only one to both produce and process entire male pigs. This cooperative slaughters 6 million pigs on average every year. Cooperl also applies human sniffers at the slaughterline.

van Dooren
Kees van Dooren Reporter Boerderij