The use of mineral adsorbents as intestinal binding agents of skatole and androstenone to control boar taint
Research to develop alternatives to surgical castration to control boar taint in pigs has become a prominent topic of interest due to welfare concerns associated with castration. Amongst these alternatives, decreasing levels of androstenone and skatole in fat using dietary means has not yet been thoroughly examined. Based on binding results from a set of simple in vitro experiments, four mineral adsorbents were incorporated in diets and fed to purebred Duroc boars. Feeding diets containing bentonite, diatomaceous earth, spent filter aid, or hydrated sodium-calcium aluminosilicate for 28 days did not decrease androstenone concentrations in fat or plasma in market-weight boars. In a second animal trial, feeding diets containing hydrated sodium-calcium aluminosilicate for a longer period of time (42 to 68 days) significantly decreased androstenone concentrations in fat and plasma of crossbred [(Yorkshire x Landrace) x Duroc] boars by the last few weeks of the study. However, the proportion of tainted carcasses did not significantly decrease in comparison to the control group despite the results. Boars fed diets containing spent filter aid significantly decreased intramuscular fat percentage of loins. Neither feeding trial detected quantifiable levels of skatole in fat to make any detailed comparisons. Further research in this area must refine the inclusion levels of these adsorbents based on detailed toxicological data available.