Raising Entire Males for Pork Production: Impact of Androstenone on Behaviour and Meat Quality
Castration of male piglets reduces aggressive and sexual behaviours and diminishes boar taint, a meat quality issue caused by the hormone androstenone. This research investigated the ability to predict fat and plasma androstenone development using early plasma androstenone levels and compared behaviour and meat quality for barrows and high and low androstenone boars. Plasma androstenone at 21 days of age was associated with fat androstenone at slaughter in pigs >120 kg at slaughter. Aggression and stress-related behaviours were not notably different among all groups. Mounting was greater in all boars versus barrows. Meat quality for high and low androstenone boars only differed in terms of marbling, low androstenone boars being intermediate to high androstenone boars and barrows. Overall, raising boars appears to be a viable option, but mounting may be an issue and meat products from boars may be different than what consumers currently expect from gilt- and barrow-only production.