With the impeding ban on physical castration in the EU and worldwide interest in raising entire boars as opposed to castrates due to their superior growth performance, several nutritional and non-nutritional strategies are being evaluated regarding the associated boar taint prevalent in entire males.
In a recent Dutch survey involving 152 pig producers, several farm and management characteristics were identified as potentially associated with boar taint prevalence in entire males. The following were all indicative of lower farm-level boar taint:
- A small(er) group size as opposed to large(r) groups
- A smaller pen surface per boar
- Recently installed housing equipment
- Ad libitum feeding in the last weeks before market
- A longer fasting period before slaughter
- A higher stocking weight
- A lower fraction of boars from purebred dam line sows
- A lower fraction of boars from Pietrain terminal boar
These results indicate that certain genetic lines can be more prone to boar taint, whereas keeping animals cleaner and in more controlled groups in appropriate facilities can all help reduce the problem of boar taint. Along with nutritional intervention measures and genetic selection it is certainly possible to substantially reduce boar taint in pork, perhaps to levels that no longer cause consumer objection.