Project

CA15215 | Innovative approaches in pork production with entire males

Goal: Surgical castration of boars without pain relief is now considered unacceptable. Stakeholders of the pork chain committed themselves to voluntarily end surgical castration of male pigs in Europe by January 1st, 2018. The production of entire males (EM) or immunocastrates (IC) results in new challenges in management of product quality (detecting and reducing boar taint, coping with extreme leanness), specific nutritional requirements, appropriate animal management and housing to reduce boar taint and address associated animal welfare issues (aggression, sexual behaviour). Thus, EM and IC production require reconsideration of the whole pork production system, and innovations at all levels of the food chain to achieve high sustainability and product quality. Partially, these aspects have been studied previously but there are is still a range of unresolved relevant issues. Additionally, a knowledge gap exists between the Western and Eastern parts of Europe, either due to differences in traditional production systems or differences in public perception of animal welfare aspects. A better coordinated research effort and training of young researchers at international level would significantly improve research efficiency, accelerate knowledge acquisition and dissemination. The COST Action will accelerate innovations by networking, by developing and disseminating science-based best practices to achieve good production quality with EM or IC. It will support the meat industry to cope with the challenge to produce equally valuable products from meat of EM or IC which is adequate for regional specific consumer demands.

Date: 6 October 2016 - 5 October 2020

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Ricardo Pereira Pinto
added a research item
Neutering male piglets by surgical procedures without anaesthesia, with analgesia and/or anaesthesia and, recently, immunological-chemical castration are practices to avoid unwanted or aggressive sexual behaviour, and to prevent the development of meat boar taint. This exploratory study aims to investigate Portuguese consumer's awareness, beliefs and attitudes in issues like boar taint, piglet's castration and pork meat quality, observing possible demographic trends. It is also intended to identify clusters of consumers with similar attitudes, crossing them with demographic data to verify the existence of patterns in Portugal related to these issues. To attain this objective, a consumer's survey was performed through an online questionnaire open for 30 days. A total of 158 respondents completed the survey. Almost a half (46%) of respondents stated their unknowledge about boar taint. Surgical castration and its effects are topics with which older consumers with a rural background are more familiar with, while immunological-chemical castration is still unknown to most consumers: 65% of consumers said they were not aware of this method, and 75% did not know whether it is an effective method for eliminating boar taint. Hierarchical clustering followed by K-means analysis segmented consumers into three clusters characterized according to their opinions, mainly divided by ethical and chemical-free orientations and by a more conservative meat quality and flavour-oriented attitudes, generally independent of prevailing demographics. In general, there were no defined opinions about the subjects under study, due mainly to the lack of information or knowledge. Nevertheless, cluster classification revealed differences in consumer's opinions, especially regarding the reasons for castration and the pain inflicted, about meat quality and the willingness to buy pork from entire males or to pay more for this type of product.
Ricardo Pereira Pinto
added a research item
Presentation given during 3rd Annual IPEMA meeting in Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Belgrade
Eberhard von Borell
added a research item
For a long time, scientists assumed that newborns have a severely limited sense of pain (if any). However, this assumption is wrong and led to a “start of the exit” from piglet surgical castration. Some of the currently discussed or already implemented alternatives such as general or local anaesthesia during surgical castration raise additional welfare concerns as well as legal problems and/or are hardly applicable. The favoured long-term, welfare-friendly “gold standard” is to raise entire male pigs (EM). However, this may also impose certain welfare problems under the current conventional housing and management conditions. The specific types of behaviour displayed by EM such as mounting and aggressive behaviours but also increased exploration, which are partially linked to sexual maturation, increase the risk for injuries. The current status of knowledge (scientific literature and farmer experiences) on housing of EM suggests that environmental enrichment, space, group-stability, social constellation, feeding (diet and feeder space), health and climate control are critical factors to be considered for future housing systems. From an animal welfare point of view, an intermediate variant to be favoured to reduce problematic behaviour could be to slaughter EM before reaching puberty or to immunize boars early on to suppress testicular function. Immunization against endogenous GnRH can reduce EM-specific problems after the 2nd vaccination.
Kevin Kress
added a research item
The surgical castration of male piglets as a routine procedure in modern pig production is facing increasing societal criticism. Pork production with boars and immunocastrates are available alternatives, but both have low market shares as it is so far uncertain how the carcass characteristics and primal pork cuts of boars and immunocastrates will be estimated in comparison to barrows and gilts. This article therefore evaluates the impact of sex group (gilts, boars, immunocastrates and barrows) on carcass characteristics and primal pork cuts using AutoFOM III data from a commercial abattoir. In our study, weekly slaughter data from a total of n = 36,994 pigs between 2018 and 2019 were analyzed. The results show that gilts had the highest amount of pork per carcass of all sex groups, whereas non-significant differences between boars, immunocastrates and barrows could be observed. Boars had the highest lean meat content, followed by gilts, immunocastrates and finally barrows with the lowest lean meat content. These results suggest that both immunocastration and pork production with boars are sustainable techniques that can replace pork production with barrows without affecting carcass quality.
Saša Novaković
added a research item
Due to the strong public initiative in Europe and increased regulator focus to mitigate pain, surgical castration of pigs is being gradually abandoned, while the importance of other sex categories like entire males (EM) and immunocastrates (IC) increases. Although beneficial for animal welfare and economics, their use also brings forward several quality problems. Besides the occurrence of boar taint in EM, these include excessive carcass leanness, softer fat, meat color and pH deviations, inferior water holding capacity and increased meat toughness. In this paper, the raw material differences between the male sex categories and their influence on product quality are reviewed, and possible solutions are presented. Using EM for dried or thermally processed products may result in lower processing yields and inferior sensory quality, which may partially be prevented by applying specific processing adaptations. Immunocastration is a viable solution, especially when prolonging the vaccination to slaughter interval. Low to medium levels of boar taint can be effectively managed in most of the meat products, applying procedures like cooking, microbial inoculation or masking (by spices and especially smoking), while highly tainted material can be valorized only by combining various methods and/or with dilution of the tainted meat.
Ricardo Pereira Pinto
added 3 research items
Introduction: Boar taint is an off-odour/off-flavour found in meat from entire male pigs due to two main compounds: androstenone and skatole. The incidence of boar taint is of concern when considering the use of entire males for pork meat production. Objectives: This study aims at evaluating sensory characteristics of meat from entire male pigs raised under specific conditions in order to reduce or eliminate the boar taint. Methods: Belly meat from entire male pigs raised under six different conditions (normal housing versus improved housing) and feeding with different levels of added inulin (0%, 3% and 6%) was analysed. A Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA®) methodology was applied to samples, previously cooked and presented in closed jars, and the panel, composed by 10 trained panellists, was asked to assess odour and flavour of skatole and androstenone, texture and sweet flavour. Results: Significant differences (p<0.05) were found between samples concerning skatole and androstenone odour and flavour, and texture compared to control samples. Conclusions: As expected, the boar taint was stronger in samples where no addition of inulin and no improved conditions were applied. It can be concluded that the inulin addition into pig feed have positive effects when conjugated with better housing conditions.
This study aims to investigate the effect of feeding and housing conditions on physicochemical characteristics of cooked hams produced with meat from entire male pigs. Meat from boars raised under different conditions of housing and feeding (two housing conditions and three levels of inulin added to feed) was used to produce six batches of cooked hams following a standard manufacturing process. Texture profile analysis (hardness, cohesiveness, and chewiness), color analysis, pH, and moisture content were determined. ANOVA and principal component analysis were carried out. Results showed that 6% of inulin added to feed led to significantly lower values of hardness and chewiness. Improved housing conditions hams presented lower pH values. Except for a* parameter (red color), no significant interactions between the two categorical variables, housing and diet, were found. Housing conditions and inulin feeding may have affected meat characteristics; therefore, adjustments of current cooked ham processing parameters might be necessary. This study is part of a broader project where the main objective is to determine whether the housing conditions and the addition of inulin to pig feed lead to the reduction or elimination of the boar taint. Also, there is the need to determine if the meat characteristics are appealing to the consumers and viable for the industry, since the characteristics of entire male's meat may pose new challenges in meat processing. In line with this, the objective of this study was to determine the effect of different feeding and housing conditions of boars in the physicochemical characteristics of cooked ham, in order to determine the viability of the use of entire male's meat for cooked ham production.
Kevin Kress
added 2 research items
Alternative solutions to the surgical castration of piglets need to be assessed because this is a particularly sensitive issue for the processing of traditional pork products. Currently, the available information about the advantages and drawbacks of castration for dry-cured products is limited; thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the quality of Slovenian dry-cured ham (Kraški pršut) from entire males (EM), immunocastrates (IC) and surgical castrates (SC). Hams (12 per sex group) were processed for one year and physical-chemical, rheological and sensory analysis of the dry-cured hams was performed. With regard to processing aptitude, the main difference was in the subcutaneous fat thickness, which influenced the level of dehydration and salt intake. This was further reflected in the physical-chemical traits and the texture, which were measured instrumentally or assessed by panelists. Regarding the aforementioned traits, EM and IC were generally similar and different from SC. On the contrary, sensory profiling of odor, taste and flavor demonstrated that EM had the lowest overall sensory quality, different from both IC and SC, and presented odors and flavors described as sweat, manure, sharp and persistent. We confirmed that dry-curing did not eliminate the perception of boar taint in the product from EM. The IC were similar in many aspects to EM except for the odor, taste and flavor of dry-cured hams, in which case they were more similar to SC.
The present study investigated the effects of immunocastration and housing conditions on carcass, meat and fat quality traits. Immunocastrates (IC, n = 48), entire (EM, n = 48), and surgical castrates (SC, n = 48) male pigs were reared under three different housing conditions. The conditions were either standard (n = 36), enriched (n = 36, twice as much space as standard and additional outdoor access) or standard with repeated social mixing (n = 72). Pigs of the IC group were vaccinated at the age of 12 and 22 wk. The animals were slaughtered in four batches, balanced for sex category and housing, at the age of 27 wk reaching 124.7 ± 1.0 kg. Immunocastration led to increased fat deposition (i.e. thicker subcutaneous fat at different anatomical locations, more leaf fat, fatter belly in IC than EM, P < 0.05) but did not affect muscularity traits. As a result, EM exhibited higher and SC lower (p < 0.05) carcass leanness than IC. Fatty acids composition of either subcutaneous or intramuscular fat agreed with general adiposity, i.e. IC were intermediate between EM and SC exhibiting the lowest and highest fat saturation (P < 0.05), respectively. Compared to SC, EM exhibited higher (P < 0.05) levels of muscle oxidation and collagen content than SC, with IC taking intermediate position in the case of the level of peroxidation and collagen content, or closer to SC as regards to oxidation of muscle proteins (i.e. carbonyl groups). Meat quality (including marbling score, cooking loss, subjective color redness and chroma) of IC was similar to EM, and both differed (P < 0.05) from SC. However, IC and SC had less (P < 0.05) tough meat than EM, consistent with protein oxidation. The effect of housing was less evident. Mixing of pigs resulted in lower (P < 0.05) carcass weight and fatness in all sex categories with lower (P < 0.05) oleic and higher (P < 0.05) arachidonic acid in intramuscular fat of EM.
Kevin Kress
added a research item
Immunocastration is a sustainable alternative to piglet castration but faces limited market acceptance. The phenomenon of non-responders has not to date been examined in detail, but adverse and stressful housing conditions (e.g., mixing of groups) might impair the success of vaccinations. Therefore, we evaluated the influence of housing conditions on the immune response after two Improvac® vaccinations at an age of 12 and 22 weeks, respectively. Boars, immunocastrates and barrows (n = 48 each) were assigned to three different housing conditions (n = 36 enriched, n = 36 standard n = 72 repeated social mixing). Immune response was quantified by measuring GnRH-binding and its consequences for testosterone concentrations, development of the genital tract and boar taint. Growth performance was evaluated via average daily gain (ADG). GnRH-binding and testosterone levels revealed that immunocastration reliably suppressed testicular functions after the 2nd vaccination. Housing conditions did not modify testicular function but influenced ADG as animals under mixing grew slower than those under enriched conditions. Gonadal status had only a slight impact on ADG except in immunocastrates, which showed a temporarily higher ADG after the 2nd vaccination. The results show that immunocastration is a reliable procedure under different housing conditions and competitive in terms of growth performance.
Sonya Georgieva Ivanova
added 2 research items
The alternative to surgical castration in pigs evaluated in a sustainable network activities between science and industry addressing the challenges of farming management, reliable methods of reducing and detecting unpleasant boar taint, and pork meat quality grading for national requirements for high quality meat products and DOOR listed products (Bonneau et al., 2017; Zamaratskaia & Squires, 2009; Aluwe et al., 2015). In Bulgaria for 2017 are slaughtered 973,000 pigs for meat. Surgical castration is in nearly all cases the only used method. Uncastrated pigs (entire males) often have lower fat quantity and quality and low changes in the technological qualities of the meat (Pauly et al., 2012). Lack of knowledge and sustainable field models resulted in very low interest of slaughterhouses and farmers to Entire male and immunocastrated male pigs instead of rising consumer attitudes supporting welfare concept (Borrisser‐Pairó et al., 2016; Tacken et al., 2011).
Surgical castration is considered undesirable due to the procedure is with pain and suffering of the 4-5 days old piglets and condemnation the principles of animal welfare. Alternative systems provide opportunities for the use of production from non-castrated male, immuno-castrated or protective bar taint effects through additives and changes in feed composition. The quality of the meat is particularly dependent on alternative systems and the most undesirable effect is reported by the consumers as appearance of a unpleasant boar taint at the concentration of 1.0 μg/g for androstenone and 0.250 μg/g for skatole. Consumers withdraw from meat from immunocastrates is due to suspected additional animal injection with non natural drugs, and from non-castrated male meat due to the fact that it is more lean, firm and with a higher percent of boar taint. Feed supplementation with substances that improve liver function or hind gut microorganisms in the large intestine, have a positive effect and reduce the odor of boar in meat and fat. Feed supplementation with natural components is well appreciated by the consumers and presence of inulin, beet pulp and dried distilled rose (Rosa Damascena) petals have the potential effect as boar taint restriction additives. Key words: entire male pigs, boar taint, nutrition, rosa damascene
Giuseppe Bee
added a research item
A retrospective data analysis suggested that the levels of boar taint compounds depend on the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) level of the adipose tissue (AT) being significantly greater in the unsaturated AT. In addition, we recently reported that hydrolysable tannins (HTs) offered to entire males (EMs) reduce skatole and, to a greater extent, indole levels in the AT. Thus, the objective of the study was to determine the impact of HTs and a high dietary level of PUFA on growth performance and board taint compounds in EMs. In addition, the interaction between PUFA and HTs on gut microbiota and its link to intestinal skatole and indole production was investigated. At 25 kg BW, 44 EM originating from 11 litters were randomly assigned within litter to four dietary treatments. Two basal grower (25-60 kg BW) and finisher (60-105 kg BW) diets containing either 2% soy oil (H = high PUFA level) or 2% tallow (L = low PUFA level) were formulated. The H and L diets were either supplemented (H+/L+) or not (H−/L−) with 3% chestnut extract containing 50% HTs. The pigs had ad libitum access to the diets and were slaughtered at 170 days of age. The microbiota composition was investigated through the 16S rRNA gene sequences obtained by next-generation sequencing (Illumia MiSeq platform, San Diego, CA, USA) and analyzed with a specific packages in R, version 3.5.0. Regardless of the PUFA content, the EMs fed the H+ diets were 2% (p < 0.01) less feed efficient overall. This was due to the slower (p = 0.01) growth in the finisher period despite similar feed intake. Carcass characteristics were not affected by the diets. Regardless of HT feeding, the PUFA level in the AT of the H pigs was 10% greater (p = 0.05) than in the L pigs. The indole level tended (p = 0.08) to be 50% lower in the H+ group. Surprisingly, the pigs that were fed diet H− had greater skatole levels than those fed diet L−, with intermediate skatole levels in the H+ and L+. Independent of the PUFA level, the HTs decreased bacteria abundance and qualitatively affected the microbiota composition. In conclusion, these data do not confirm that boar taint compound levels were related to PUFA levels in the AT. However, HTs can be considered to be a promising alternative to conventional antibacterial additives, with no detrimental effects on pig gut health and with appealing properties for reducing the synthesis of the main components of boar taint.
Marjeta Čandek-Potokar
added 4 research items
There are indications of reduced meat quality in entire male pigs (EMs) in comparison to surgically castrated pigs (SCs); however, the differences are not strongly confirmed, and the etiology is not clarified. In the present study, samples of the longissimus dorsi, pars lumborum muscle (LL) from EMs (n = 12) and SCs (n = 12) of the same age and weight were evaluated at the physico-chemical and proteomic level. EMs exhibited lower intramuscular fat content, higher collagen content with higher solubility, a higher level of protein carbonyl groups (indicating higher protein oxidation), lower water holding capacity, and tougher meat than SCs. Proteomic analysis revealed differences in heat shock proteins expression, while a greater abundance of several other identified proteins (malate dehydrogenase, Na/K-transporting adenosintriphosphatase (ATP-ase) subunit alpha-1, and blood plasma proteins) indicates that EMs have a more oxidative metabolic profile than that of SCs. More abundant protein fragments (mainly actin and myosin heavy chain) suggest a higher degree of proteolysis in EMs, which was not followed by lower meat toughness.
Abandoning of male piglets castration in the European Union is a challenge for the pork production sector in particular for high-quality dry-cured traditional products. The information on consumer acceptability of dry-cured products from alternatives is limited, so the objective was to test the consumer acceptability of unsmoked traditional dry-cured belly (Kraška panceta) processed from three sex categories, i.e., surgical castrates (SC), entire males (EM) and immunocastrates (IC). Consumers (n = 331) were asked to taste dry-cured bellies from EM, IC and SC and to score the taste appreciation on a 9 cm unstructured scale. After tasting the pancetta of three sex categories, the consumers attributed the lowest acceptability scores to SC, whereas IC and EM received similar scores. Only about a quarter of consumers attributed the lowest score to EM, mainly when boar taint compounds were present. The results of this study indicate that a certain share of consumers was sensitive to taste deficiencies and that the leanness of this product is very important for consumers.
Castration of male piglets is a common practice to avoid boar taint but is being questioned. The present work has an exploratory character and aims to investigate the beliefs and attitudes of Eastern European consumers regarding boar taint, surgical castration immunocastration and perception of meat from castrated pigs and to find out possible segments of consumers regarding these attitudes and beliefs. For this purpose, a consumer study was carried out involving 5508 consumers from 13 Eastern European countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, North Macedonia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine). The questionnaire included statements related to beliefs about castration and perception of meat from castrated pigs, attitudes towards meat from castrated pigs. Results show that in general beliefs and attitudes of the consumers are not defined, probably because of the lack of knowledge (information was not provided to the consumers) towards these issues. Three different clusters of consumers were obtained with different beliefs towards castration.
Kevin Kress
added 2 research items
From 2021 onwards, surgical castration of male piglets without pain relief will be banned in Germany. In Europe, stakeholders have committed themselves to end piglet castration from 2018 onwards. Alternatives to surgical castration are pork production with boars or immunocastrates. The competitiveness of these production systems is required to increase their market acceptance. The aim of this study was to test the profitability of pork production with boars and immunocastrates under different carcass pricing systems and penalty systems linked to boar taint. The calculations were based on the performance parameters of 36 animals (n = 12 immunocastrates, n = 12 boars, n = 12 barrows) from an experimental study. In order to analyze the economic effects of both alternatives under different regional German production systems, the performance data were set in relation to the data of agri benchmark. Both boars and immunocastrates performed economically worse than barrows in all the scenarios tested. If immunocastrates are sold according to the boar pricing system, the profitability of this technique is even lower, but still more profitable than boar fattening. Pork production with boars is the most unprofitable alternative in this study and will be further devalued if a penalty system linked to boar taint will be introduced.
Immunocastration, a technique to replace surgical castration of piglets, consists of two consecutive vaccinations to induce antibodies which transiently suppress testicular functions and avoid boar taint. It is a method to ensure both a high product quality and a high level of animal welfare. The impact of immunocastration on the three pillars of sustainability has been studied extensively. While all aspects of sustainability have been studied separately, however, a contemporary global overview of different aspects is missing. In immunocastrates, performance results are better than in barrows, but worse than in boars. The environmental impact of pork production with immunocastrates is lower than with barrows, but higher than with boars. The level of aggression is considerably lower in immunocastrates compared to boars. Societal concerns are mainly related to food safety, and are not supported by scientific evidence. After second vaccination, immunocastrates switch from a boar-to a barrow-like status. Therefore, the timing of second vaccination is a fine-tuning tool to balance advantages of boars with environmental and economic benefits against increased risk of welfare problems and boar taint. Nevertheless, both synergic and conflicting relationships between the pillars of sustainability must be communicated along the value chain to produce tailored pork products.
Ulrike Weiler
added a research item
German version of the fact sheet published by the IPEMA core group 2019 (see www.ca-ipema.eu) The fact sheet has been published in August 2019 by the core group of COST action IPEMA (Marijke Aluwe, Ge Backus, Giuseppe Bee, Michel Bonneau (vice chair), Eberhard von Borell, Meta Candek-Potokar, Olena Doran, Maria Font-i –Furnols, Catherine Larzul, Martin Skrlep, Igor Tomasevic, Liliana Tudoreanu, Mandes Verhaagh, Ulrike Weiler (chair)). Die deutsche Übersetzung machten Kevin Kress und Thilo Chillon in Abstimmung mit Ulrike Weiler. Wir bedanken uns beim Era-NET SuSan, project SuSi (co-financing by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Programme and German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food), grant number 696231 für die Unterstützung bei der Erstellung der deutschsprachigen Version.
Olga C. Moreira
added a research item
The various strains of Iberian pigs originate high quality processed products and represent a source of genetic variability that has not yet been deeply exploited, thus representing an opportunity to identify the genetic basis of traits with high economic relevance. The Alentejano breed is a strain of Iberian pigs that is characterized by excellent meat quality and slow growth rate, very well adapted to harsh climate conditions and usually raised outdoors in oak-tree forests. In this study, a sample of Iberian pigs from the Alentejano strain was genotyped with PorcineSNP60 v2 Beadchip to identify markers and candidate genes associated with a total of 153 different traits, including carcass, meat cuts, meat quality, fatty acid composition and derived metabolic indexes. To explore the biological role of the revealed associations, SNPs significant in GWAS which overlapped introns or gene regulatory regions were used to identify related genes, by generating gene interaction networks covering an enlarged and connected list of candidate genes. Using the genotypes of 31,434 SNPs that passed quality control steps, we performed single SNP association testing, using the GenABEL toolset and accounting for population stratification by principal component analysis. In these analyses, we identified novel associations for the index of desaturase and elongase activity of n − 3 c18:3 to c20:5 and for the content of cis-vaccenic acid in intramuscular fat, for the content of lauric acid in subcutaneous fat and for meat moisture and heart weight. The identified SNPs of interest were located within introns or within regulatory regions of 11 relevant genes, namely CRISPLD2, LDLRAD3, PPIL4, SOGA3, ME3, FLRT3, PPIL4, DOPEY2, CELC3A, and DSCAM. Based on these SNPs, we have further identified direct interactions with other genes and the biological processes involved in the regulation of these traits. Our results show that the study of a local pig breed allowed the identification of new genomic regions and candidate genes associated to several traits, and some of these are related with the levels of fatty acids that occur in high abundance in Iberian pigs and contribute positively to consumer health.
Igor Tomasevic
added an update
Date and time: Monday 9th of July 2018, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. CET
Content: The deadlines of January 1st, 2012, and of 2018 of the “European Declaration on alternatives to surgical castration of pigs” are far from being met and there is a lack of consensus on the animal welfare implications and the feasibility  of  the alternatives to surgical castration without analgesia/anaesthesia. Although countries using analgesia/anaesthesia routinely find this method practical and effective, only few countries seem to aim at meeting the deadline to phase out surgical castration completely. A recent survey from the FVE pointed out those important issues that will be discussed during the webinar.
 
Igor Tomasevic
added an update
This report represents Deliverable #1 of the action and was written under the direction of Ulrike Weiler and Michel Bonneau, the chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the COST Action CA 15215 with acronym IPEMA The contributors are (by alphabetical order): Marijke Aluwé, ILVO, Belgium; Giuseppe Bee, Agroscope, Switzerland; Michel Bonneau, IFIP, France; Marjeta Čandek-Potokar, KIS, Slovenia; Olena Doran, UWE, UK; Maria Font-i-Furnols, IRTA, Spain; Katharina Hoelzle, Universität Hohenheim, Germany; Catherine Larzul, INRA, France; Martin Škrlep, KIS, Slovenia; Eberhardt von Borell, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg; Ulrike Weiler, Universität Hohenheim, Germany Please refer to this work as: Weiler U., Larzul C., Bee G., von Borell E., Font-i-Furnols M., Škrlep M., Aluwé M., Doran O., Čandek-Potokar M., Hoelzle K., Bonneau M., 2018. Knowledge gaps in pork production with entire males and immunocastrates. Deliverable 1 of Cost Action 15215 IPEMA, Innovative Approaches for Pork Production with Entire Males. www.ca-ipema.eu
 
Ulrike Weiler
added a research item
In order to valorize tainted meat from entire male pigs, two options exist in the production of different meat products: either to dilute tainted meat or to mask off‐odors in the final product. Processing steps may also reduce the concentrations of boar taint compounds. This study investigated the impact of different processing methods on the concentrations of boar taint compounds skatole and androstenone in meat products. Three different types of German sausages, such as raw fermented (salami), boiled (wiener), and cooked meat sausages (liver sausage), were produced from boar meat and fat with either “high” or “low” taint level. Heating during processing, especially the production of wiener and liver sausage, reduced androstenone concentrations between 44 and 87%. In salami, androstenone concentrations were not reduced during production process. In contrast, skatole reductions of up to 26% were observed for salami and up to 44% for wiener, whereas liver sausage was not affected. Practical applications The risk of offensive boar taint is one of the main disadvantages of pork production with entire males. If the detection of tainted carcasses at the slaughter line can be improved, a valid strategy to valorize such carcasses is crucial. The study revealed that open heating during processing has the potential to reduce androstenone, whereas smoking of the products seems to reduce skatole concentrations in the final product.
Igor Tomasevic
added an update
We thank the organizers for their hospitality !
 
Igor Tomasevic
added an update
Annual meeting of the working groups (8th February 8:30 to 9th February 12:00)
Meeting of the Management committee (9th February afternoon)
The meetings will be held in the INIAV headquarters, close to Lisbon, Portugal. The INIAV headquarters are located Av. da República in Oeiras Download logistic information on INIAV and Hotel Praia Mar. Transportation will be organised between the hotel and INIAV during the meeting.
There is no registration fee to attend the annual meeting of the working groups. You are encouraged to submit abstracts for presentation during the annual meeting of the working groups:
  1. Breeding and Genetics
  2. Nutrition
  3. Management, Housing and Welfare
  4. Grading and Quality control
  5. Innovation in Processing
  6. Consumer and Market Behaviour
Both oral presentations and poster presentations will be possible. It is planned that the accepted abstracts will be published in Advances in Animal Sciences, provided that the corresponding presentation is actually given by one of the co-authors attending the meeting. If however you prefer that your abstract is not published in Advances in Animal Sciences, please state it clearly in the text of your abstract, just after the list of authors and affiliations.
Early career investigators are particularly encouraged to attend the meeting. At this point the IPEMA Management Committee is not in a position to confirm financial contribution towards the travelling and accomodation cost associated with Early Career Investigators participation. Should the financial support become available, this information will be circulated in due course and posted on this website as soon as possible.
Deadlines are as follows:
  • 15 December 2017: Submission of abstracts (one page)
  • 15 January: Notification of decision regarding acceptance of abstract(s) and mode of presentation (oral or poster)
 
Marjeta Čandek-Potokar
added a research item
The perspective of a possible ban on surgical castration of male pigs in the EU is a real challenge for pork production systems aiming at (very) high-quality products. Information was collected from a total of 272 situations in 16 European countries, including 170 situations related to EU protected designations (Database of Origin & Registration (DOOR) database) and 102 other situations related to high-quality products or differentiated production systems, in order to evaluate their potential sensitivity to the use of entire male pigs along four dimensions: BT_Inc, likelihood of increased levels of boar taint compounds compared with conventional production of entire males; BT_Per, extent to which (some of) the associated pork product(s) are susceptible to perception of boar taint by consumers; FatQQ, likelihood that the quality of (some of) the related products is decreased due to the lower fat quantity and quality in entire males; Manag, increased likelihood of animal management and welfare problems compared with conventional production of entire males. Situations corresponding to EU protected designations (DOOR situations) were on average more sensitive to entire male production but 11% of the non-DOOR situations were highly potentially sensitive, whereas one-third of the DOOR situations had low potential sensitivity. In total, 37% of the situations where castration is not formally specified as mandatory exhibited high potential sensitivity to entire male production. Three main patterns of situations were identified via ascending hierarchical clustering. A first pattern including 31% of the DOOR situations and 74% of the other ones, had potentially no increased risk compared with conventional production of entire males. A second pattern including 28% of the DOOR situations and 16% of the other ones had a high, moderate and low potential sensitivity for FatQQ, BT_Inc and Manag, respectively. The third pattern including 41% of the DOOR situations and 11% of the other situations had high potential sensitivity for BT_Inc and FatQQ, associated with moderate to high sensitivity for Manag. The approach used to evaluate the sensitivity to entire male pig production from the limited information collected for this study has many limitations. More precise approaches using more specific information are needed to evaluate the actual sensitivity of individual situations to the use of entire male pigs. Still, the present study provides a first global insight on the capacity of European production systems aiming at high-quality products to use entire male pigs as an alternative to surgical castration.
Igor Tomasevic
added a research item
Various European Union pork chain actors and stakeholders agreed in 2010 on a road map to voluntarily abandon piglet castration by 1 January 2018. Because currently in Serbia, male piglets are surgically castrated and consumers are not used to the boar taint odour and flavour, the introduction of boar meat may modify the acceptability of pork. The objective of the study was to investigate the attitudes, awareness and opinions of future Serbian food technologist towards surgical castration of boars and its alternatives, and to test their sensitivity to androstenone and skatole. We found that they were concerned about the animal welfare issues and that they were willing to pay a little more for meat from animals treated with dignity. This was more so if they were females and less so if they had had a rural upbringing. They strongly believed that surgical castration is painful for the animals, but at the same time agreed that meat from castrated pigs is of better quality. Their ambiguous attitudes regarding efficacy and quality of alternatives to surgical castration clearly indicated the knowledge gap that must be filled by appropriate modifications of the curriculum. Students demonstrated average sensitivity to both androstenone and skatole. Females exhibited higher intensities of difference in both cases.
Igor Tomasevic
added an update
Training school on "Harmonisation of methods in entire male and immunocastrate research"
 
Ulrike Weiler
added a research item
Castration of male domestic piglets is mainly performed to prevent unpleasant boar taint and to reduce aggression and sexual behaviour among pigs. Based on the current knowledge that castration causes pain and suffering, castration without anaesthesia will be banned by the German animal welfare legislation by the end of 2018. This review analyses different alternative options for practicability, efficiency and animal welfare impact: Sperm-sexing, raising entire males, early slaughter before puberty, immunological vaccination against boar taint (immunocastration) and anaesthesia. The often favoured option of fattening entire males is problematic because of the risk for injuries under current housing and management conditions. Early slaughtering before puberty and immunocastration are favourable options in order to reduce critical behaviours and control for boar taint. Raising entire young males and immunocastration seem to be the preferred short term and widely usable option, as the implementation of new housing and management systems would necessitate a significant effort in research.
Igor Tomasevic
added an update
Igor Tomasevic
added an update
Ulrike Weiler
added an update
 
Ulrike Weiler
added a research item
Penile injuries in boars have been discussed as a relevant welfare problem in pork production with entire males (EM). The incidence of penile injuries with immunocastrated boars has not been described so far. Thus, it was the aim of this study to systematically compare frequency and severity of penile injuries in EM and IC. Incidence and size of penile injuries (wounds, scars, hematomas) were evaluated in 192 IC and 215 EM from one farm after slaughter (120 kg live weight; four batches (BA) in at least weekly intervals over five weeks). 75.8% EM and 48.4% IC showed injuries at the pars libra of the penis. Scars were observed in 71.2% EM and 44.8% IC. Scars/animal were significantly influenced by treatment (IC vs. EM), B and treatment x B and increased with age in EM (BA1: 2.61 ± 3.05; BA4: 3.59 ± 3.47), but not in IC (BA1: 2.00 ± 3.02; BA4: 1.22 ± 1.91). Wounds were obvious in 17.2% EM and 8.3% IC. Wounds/animal were only influenced significantly by treatment and were lower in IC than in EM. Thus, it is concluded that immunocastration reduces the frequency and severity of penile injuries in IC when compared to EM of same age and weight.
Marjeta Čandek-Potokar
added a research item
Surgical castration of piglets is a routine practice in pig production used to prevent the incidence of boar taint of pig meat, which may develop in entire male pigs as they reach puberty. This practice is being presently questioned in the European Union, and there is a strong initiative to end it. The initiative is presently voluntary; however, key stakeholders of European pig production sector have signed a declaration, and the actions undertaken by them already affect the business. Before such new concepts in pig production can be implemented, alternative solutions are needed, one of them being immunocastration. The present chapter will thus focus on the presentation of immunocastration as one of the promising alternatives to surgical castration. Theoretical and practical aspects of immunocastration in pig production will be described, and the advantages and disadvantages of this alternative will be summarised. Physiological principles of immunocastration and impacts on metabolism, growth performance, body composition and meat quality will be described and aspects of public acceptability reviewed.
Giuseppe Bee
added an update
A leaflet explaing main objectives of IPEMA
 
Ulrike Weiler
added a research item
Castration of male domestic piglets is mainly performed to prevent unpleasant boar taint and to reduce aggression and sexual behaviour among pigs. Based on the current know­ledge that castration causes pain and suffering, castration without anaesthesia will be banned by the German animal welfare legislation by the end of 2018. This review analyses different alternative options for practicability, efficiency and animal welfare impact: Sperm-sexing, raising entire males, early slaughter before puberty, immunological vaccination against boar taint (immunocastration) and anaesthesia. The often favoured option of fattening entire males is problematic because of the risk for injuries under current housing and management conditions. Early slaughtering before puberty and immunocastration are favourable options in order to reduce critical behaviours and control for boar taint. Raising entire young males and immunocastration seem to be the preferred short term and widely usable option, as the implementation of new housing and management systems would necessitate a significant effort in research.
Igor Tomasevic
added a project goal
Surgical castration of boars without pain relief is now considered unacceptable. Stakeholders of the pork chain committed themselves to voluntarily end surgical castration of male pigs in Europe by January 1st, 2018. The production of entire males (EM) or immunocastrates (IC) results in new challenges in management of product quality (detecting and reducing boar taint, coping with extreme leanness), specific nutritional requirements, appropriate animal management and housing to reduce boar taint and address associated animal welfare issues (aggression, sexual behaviour). Thus, EM and IC production require reconsideration of the whole pork production system, and innovations at all levels of the food chain to achieve high sustainability and product quality. Partially, these aspects have been studied previously but there are is still a range of unresolved relevant issues. Additionally, a knowledge gap exists between the Western and Eastern parts of Europe, either due to differences in traditional production systems or differences in public perception of animal welfare aspects. A better coordinated research effort and training of young researchers at international level would significantly improve research efficiency, accelerate knowledge acquisition and dissemination. The COST Action will accelerate innovations by networking, by developing and disseminating science-based best practices to achieve good production quality with EM or IC. It will support the meat industry to cope with the challenge to produce equally valuable products from meat of EM or IC which is adequate for regional specific consumer demands.