Economics of pig farming without castration

From 2020 on, piglet castration without anaesthesia will be banned in Germany. There are different strategies that farmers can adapt in order to farm without castration. A working paper of the German Thünen Institute of Farm Economics describes and compares the cost-effectiveness the different strategies. The strategies described are: fattening of entire males, vaccination against boar taint (so-called immunocastration), castration using various anaesthetic methods and local anaesthesia. An important conclusion of the working paper is that all measures are more cost-effective when farmers are allowed to carry them out themselves. 

Data from eleven typical pig farms were used for in the study. The alternatives of the current practice of castration and their effects on performance data as well as costs and, if applicable, revenues were estimated. The costs of boar finishing with vaccination (immunocastration) are compensated by the higher performance of the animals and a better feed conversion. Boar fattening – the abandonment of castration measures – is less profitable due to reduced payments by the German slaughter industry (boar price mask). Regional differences between the two methods were found. The effects of the surgical measure are more homogeneous between the farm types and regions in Germany.

Read the full report here (english summary on page five).