Publications - breeding & genetics

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Dissertation on marketing meat from boars

In Germany Diana Engesser conducted an excellent bibliographic work on practical solutions to use entire male meat and boar tainted meat in particular. A summary of her thesis work in 2015 has been published in the 2017 edition of Fleischwirtschaft. An efficient method to decrease levels of androstenone and skatole as main components of boar taint is the thermal process. Cooked ham for example reached a skatole elimination and a decreasing of androstenone by 29% to 60%. Processing the meat – like smoking and curing – also reached good results, especially when consumed cold at a temperature of about 23 0C. Smoke had also a distinct masking effect when consuming at a temperature of 20 0C.

Full research

Date: 11-12-2017

Boars on the way

The five-year Dutch research program ‘stopping the castration of piglets’ was started in 2009. The research results have provided important directions for solutions. The scientists involved have gradually unravelled the consumer response to products from entire male pigs, which is important for the appropriate use of detection methods. We have also identified the factors that determine successful boar management on the farm. Although still some challenges remain to be solved, we are convinced that we are on the right track towards a more sustainable production and marketing of pork products. This report summarizes the knowledge gained up to the present.Further information can be found in the reports of various studies, to which reference is made in the text. We hope that sharing our knowledge with experts throughout the member states of the European Union contributes to the ambition of stopping piglet castration.

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Date: 14-12-2013

Efficiency of different selection strategies against boar taint in pigs


Date: 07-11-2013

Boar behaviour complex, but increasingly well understood

Light influence, group size and pen layout are nil.

Boar behaviour and the factors that influence it are increasingly well understood. Boars can cause restlessness by fighting and mounting each other. It is important for pig farmers to know which factors can positively or negatively influence this behaviour. The Dutch Product Board for Livestock, Meat and Eggs and the Ministry of Economic Affairs therefore assigned the VIC (Swine Innovation Centre) in Sterksel to study whether light, group size and a hiding wall in pens influence boar mounting behaviour. The study was carried out by Wageningen UR Livestock Research.

The researchers monitored pigs while they were exposed to green light or a gradually increasing light regime. The effect of lighting proved minimal: the pigs only demonstrated slightly less aggressive behaviour during finishing. Mounting behaviour did not change when the pigs were housed in larger groups (24 animals in a pen instead of 12). A hiding wall in pens also did not reduce mounting behaviour. Finally, the researchers concluded that mounting behaviour occurred less at night than during the day and less in the mornings than during the afternoons.

Behaviour influencing factors
Studying factors that influence boar behaviour is complex. Cataloguing the factors light, group size and pen size/layout made new information available on boar behaviour. The past year at 70 pig farms behavior observations were conducted. The researchers will further analyse the results of these practical trials.

The full results are described in the report “Effect van licht, groepsgrootte en schuilwand op gedrag van beren” [The effect of light, group size and hiding walls on boar behaviour].

Additional information can be obtained from researcher Carola van der Peet-Schwering (



Date: 22-02-2013

Reducing mounting behaviour of boars

Managing boars (entire males) differs from managing castrates and gilts. Experiences with keeping boars differ between pig farmers. Some pig farmers observehigh levels of sexual and aggressive behaviour of the boars on their farms while other farmers do no observe this behaviour. On 70 pig farms these differences in behaviour of the boars in relation to farm management were investigated. This resulted in advices for successfully keeping boars. This flyer contains tips and recommendations to reduce sexual and aggressive behaviour of boars.

Full research

Date: 27-12-2011

The distal end of porcine chromosome 6p is involved in the regulation of skatole levels in boars

BMC Genetics, 2011, The distal end of porcine chromosome 6p is involved in the regulation of skatole levels in boars. Antonio M Ramos, Naomi Duijvesteijn, Egbert F Knol, Jan WM Merks, Henk Bovenhuis, Richard PMA Crooijmans, Martien AM Groenenand Barbara Harlizius


Date: 07-09-2011

A genome-wide association study on androstenone levels in pigs reveals a cluster of candidate genes on chromosome 6

BMC Genetics, 2010, A genome-wide association study on androstenone levels in pigs reveals a cluster of candidate genes on chromosome 6. Naomi Duijvesteijn, Egbert F Knol, Jan WM Merks, Richard PMA Crooijmans, Martien AM Groenen, Henk Bovenhuis and Barbara Harlizius


Date: 07-09-2010

Removing the taint 2008


Date: 07-09-2008