Swiss College of Agriculture, Zollikofen

Rearing entire male pigs – a possibility in Switzerland

The objective of the present trial was the determination of growth performance, carcass quality and boar taint of entire male pigs fattened on a Swiss commercial farm. From 2005 to 2007, 1094 entire males were fattened on the Juchhof with a liquid, ad libitum feeding system (15,5 MJ DE/kg DM). From the first to the second experimental year, the average age at slaughter (165 to 180 days) and the carcass weight (72 – 82 kg) increased. The average daily weight gain was 727 g/d (2nd year). The mean lean meat percentage of the carcass was 57,2 %. The majority of the carcasses reached the optimal classification group. According to HPLC analyses, 5,5 % of the tested adipose tissue samples surpassed the sensory acceptable threshold value for androstenone and/or skatole in fat. The data show that it is possible to efficiently control skatole concentration through adapted nutrition and good hygiene. However, androstenone is more difficult to control. In order to limit the risk of boar taint, animals should be slaughtered at 100 – 105 kg live weight. Not surpassing this slaughter weight is particularly important in early spring, when the risk of boar taint was elevated. In conclusion, producing entire males at commercial scale is feasible in Switzerland. However, as long as no objective boar taint detection systems are available at the slaughter line, it is likely that fattening entire male pigs will just be practiced in niche markets.

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