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Description

Main research question/goal
At present it is not clear why a (very) small minority of the entire males develop “boar taint” in fat and meat. What are the risk factors for boar taint? Are there high and low risk farms? Which farm-specific factors are responsible? Are there slaughter-specific risk factors? Can boar taint be reduced by selecting the right sire? And how can we support the slaughterhouses in detecting boar taint at the slaughter line? Now that various retailers are marketing meat from entire males, it is possible for the first time to perform a large-scale and longitudinal field study in Flanders to determine slaughter- and farm-specific risk factors. This research project was initiated by the demand of the pig industry and the consumer. It continues previous studies that help facilitate the ban of piglet castration.

Research approach
We develop a cost-efficient sensory method to detect boar taint caused by increased levels of skatole and/or androstenone. We validate on-line detection methods currently used or in development in the slaughterhouse. We conduct a large-scale and longitudinal field study in Flemish pig farms that have already switched to raising entire males to learn the prevalence of boar taint, the variation in this prevalence and to identify possible risk factors. We implement four reduction strategies in five farms with high prevalence of boar taint to demonstrate their feasibility and effectiveness. We focus on studying if and how sires with a smaller chance of tainted offspring can be identified.


 

Relevance/Valorisation
This project is highly relevant for the pig industry. The reduction of boar taint is a way to take advantage of the commercial opportunity of raising entire males. By doing so it strengthens the international competitiveness of the Flemish pig sector. We also support the slaughterhouses in setting up a detection system for boar taint by providing them with the necessary know-how. We contribute to the final solution for a well-known animal welfare problem (the practice of castrating piglets without any anesthesia). The switch to raising entire males is only possible if consumer can be guaranteed taint-free meat - in other words, when we succeed in reducing the prevalence of boar taint on the farms AND set up a system for the detection of tainted carcasses on the slaughter line. The feasibility and effectiveness of the tested reduction strategies is communicated and demonstrated to the stakeholders. These efforts stimulate broader implementation of the new strategies.

Funding provider(s)
IWT - Instituut voor de aanmoediging door wetenschap en technologie in Vlaanderen

External partner(s)
KULeuven - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen
Universiteit Gent
AcronymTAINTLESS
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/10/1331/12/17

ID: 4157330