An animal science professor with the University of Guelph says eliminating the need for castration to reduce the potential for boar taint in pork promises a range of advantages.
Boar taint, a potential off-odor and off-flavor that affects the meat of intact male pigs, is typically prevented by castration at an early age.
A number of alternatives to castration are either available or under development including the use of dietary additives to bind the compounds that cause boar taint, the use of an immunocastration vaccine or through the genetic selection of boars less prone to the problem.
Dr. James Squires, an animal science professor with the University of Guelph, says pressure to eliminate castration is building.
Clip-Dr. James Squires-University of Guelph:
When you castrate a male pig you really decrease production efficiency.
A barrow is going to be a lot fatter, going to produce less lean yield and less feed efficiency as well.
But I guess one of the key things why it's currently important is because, particularly in the EU, animal welfare concerns against castration are becoming really really significant and so there's been laws banning castration in several EU countries.
I see this being a problem certainly in North America as those attitudes move from the EU to here.
I think it's just one of those things where you have to look down the road and see what might be coming over the hill.
I see the concerns about animal welfare in the EU eventually affecting North American markets as well and consumer opinions in North America, they're certainly growing.
I've had enquiries from different groups who are interested in trying to petition supermarkets not to accept meat from castrates for example.
This is coming and I think we need to be proactive and do what we can to solve the problem since we are developing the tools and we should try to implement them as is feasible.
Dr. Squires says eliminating the need for castration will improve pork quality and consistency and animal welfare, reduce the environmental impact of pork production and boost producer profitability.
-Dr. Squires addressed the 25th Manitoba Swine Seminar last week in Winnipeg.