Presentation at the Animal Welfare Platform

Gé Backus presented an overview of the work of the international voluntary subgroup on ending piglet castration on the June 16th meeting of the European Animal Welfare Platform. He concluded that although there are still some open ends, ending castration is a potential win-win-win issue: for the animal, for the farmer and for the environment.

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Webinar “footprint of male pigs in Europe”

Boars on the Way in cooperation with Pig Progress hosted a webinar on the environmental impact of keeping entire boars. The webinar was broadcast on Thursday, February 23, and can be reviewed in its entirety through In this webinar, Gé Backus explains the background of the study on the carbon footprint of entire male pigs. In addition, Mathieu Pecqueur explains on behalf of French agricultural cooperative Cooperl how they are dealing with the matter of castration and also well-known pig producer Annechien ten Have-Mellema from the Netherlands is sharing her experiences with raising boars.

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Ending castration of piglets explained (you tube)

The impact of ending castration of entire male pigs in Europe is explained in a two minutes YouTube animation. Ending piglet castration is better for the animal, saves money for the farmers and results in a lower carbon footprint.

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Footprint of entire male pigs in Europe (pdf)

Ending piglet castration in the EU results in a lower footprint of in total 4.4 million ton CO2 equivalents per year. Producing boars instead of barrows results in a better feed utilization and thus a lower footprint. The estimated carbon footprint of entire male pigs ranged from 3.57 to 4.00  kg CO2 equivalents per kg live wight, and from 3.93 to 4.28 kg CO2 equivalents per kg live weight for castrated male pigs. This equals to 300.000 ha land use annually saved.

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Market acceptance of Danish boars

Danish Crown will slaughter an additional 1.2 million male pigs. Keeping bears is good for both animal welfare and the sustainability of Danish pork production. A pilot project evaluates whether customers accept the larger amount of meat from male pigs.

Keeping a boar reduces CO2 emissions and is better for the welfare of the male pigs. Male pigs have a 0.2 more favorable feed efficiency than pigs. Converted to CO2 equivalents, this will work out about 3 to 4 percent lower. The boar project therefore also has a positive effect on the financial and sustainability performance of pig farms.

Danish Crown wants to increase the number of boars to be slaughtered per year from the current 450,000 to 1.65 million pigs. Danish Crown customers refused to buy bear meat for fear of boar taint. According to the Danish slaughterhouse, various customers are willing to accept boar meat, provided it is kept under control and with guarantees that it does not contain boar taint.

Danish Crown meat buyers are changing. They are prepared to accept meat from male pigs that meet age and weight requirements, are less than six months old, have a slaughtered weight not exceeding 87 kilograms and come from pig farms that are included in a monitoring program.

The larger number of boars will be slaughtered in the slaughterhouses in Horsens and Blans. “If customers are still negative, we can make corrections,” says Nicolaj Nørgaard, director of Danish Crown’s owner-oriented business.

More information:

Consumers’ view on pork

Online surveys were performed with 11,294 consumers from ten EU and four non-EU countries. Four consumer segments were identified: Demanding, Average, Low-on eco, and Indifferent. It is concluded that consumer consumption motives and production preferences are sufficiently similar to include them as communicative elements in marketing strategies for meat from non-castrated pigs.

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Ending castration success stories: Belgian retailers switch to castration-free

Retailers and food service operators in Belgium contribute to the ending of surgical castration in various innovative ways. Read their success stories and learn what they did right.

Belgium-based food retail giant launches castration-free pork products
The retailer launched a line of surgical castration-free pork products under its “Better for Everyone” label in June 2018. In promoting this label, the company highlights the benefits of the pig breed used and describes the properties and quality of the meat.

Discount supermarket chain moves to entire males
In 2012, a global retailer’s store chain in Belgium fully transitioned to the sale of meat from entire non-vaccinated pigs.

Supermarket chain adopts immunocastration
The company conducted a trial in 2010 to improve pig welfare by using vaccination against boar taint. It applied the vaccine on approximately 2,600 boars and monitored all production steps from vaccination to meat consumption.

Read more about these retail and food successes to end surgical castration in the PDF below.

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Ending castration success stories: Entire males in France and vaccination in Spain and Poland

Farmers and pork producers in France, Spain and Poland are doing their share to end surgical castration. Read their success stories and learn how they went about it.

Entire males in France
The leading pork producer in France integrates farming, feed manufacturing, slaughtering and meat processing. In 2013, it transitioned to the production of entire males, serving their meat to 13 million consumers each year.

Vaccination protocol to produce cured hams in Spain
In Spain, there are successes to share as well. Farmers in this country vaccinate Iberian pigs against boar taint to produce cured hams. Vaccination has improved profitability and animal welfare while maintaining high product quality.

Polish producer sees impressive results with vaccine
A Polish producer who uses a safe and reliable vaccine has had success slaughtering animals at around 8-9 weeks after the second vaccination. This maximises their revenues.

Read more about these successes to transition away from surgical castration in the PDF below.

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Advantages of ending surgical castration

Farmers, slaughterhouses, food processors, retailers and food service operators alike can benefit from ending surgical castration of piglets. Areas where advantages can be realized are animal welfare, feed efficiency, environment, quality and production.

The fact sheet below, issued by the European Commission, highlights the advantages, alternatives, best practices and success stories of ending surgical castration.

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Reducing boar taint risk in entire males

Reducing the risk of boar taint in entire males is essential for realizing market acceptance of meat from non-castrated pigs. The European Commission shared a fact sheet designed for pig supply chains, in order to help them grapple with this topic.

In the fact sheet below, the European Commission shares best practices and techniques with regard to feed, housing, breeding and slaughter, as well as benefits and success stories.

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