Skip to main content Accessibility help

Efficacy of non-nutritive sorbent materials as intestinal-binding agents for the control of boar taint

  • K. Jen (a1) and E. J. Squires (a1)


In many countries, male pigs are castrated to prevent boar taint, but this practice raises concerns about animal welfare and reduces the production efficiency of pork. The objective of this study was to develop dietary manipulations to prevent boar taint. We evaluated the effectiveness of adding activated carbon (AC) or Tween-60 (Tween; polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate) to pig finishing diets to reduce levels of androstenone (AND) and skatole in plasma and fat of entire male pigs. Boars (159 ± 2 days of age at the start of the experiment) were fed diets supplemented with either 5% AC or 5% Tween for 28 days followed by either 14 or 28 days of recovery. Plasma samples were collected at experimental days 0, 7, 14, 21, 28, 42 and 56, and backfat biopsies were taken at experimental days 0, 28, 42 and 56. Feeding AC significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the levels of AND in plasma by day 28 compared to day 0 and by day 42 in fat compared to day 0. AC treatment also decreased levels of oestrone sulphate (E1S) in plasma by day 7 compared to day 0. Treatment with Tween significantly decreased (P < 0.05) the levels of plasma AND by day 28 from levels at day 0. Tween treatment did not significantly affect levels of fat AND or plasma E1S compared to day 0; however, fat AND levels decreased between days 28 and 42 following treatment with Tween (P < 0.05). Levels of plasma E1S, plasma AND and fat AND for control boars remained constant throughout the experiment. Skatole plasma concentrations were very low and did not vary significantly (P > 0.05) from day 0 for any treatment, but fat skatole levels decreased by day 42 in the Tween treatment group. Importantly, there was no difference in growth rate between the control and experimental groups. We conclude that adding AC or Tween to finishing diets for boars can reduce the levels of plasma and fat AND, but further work is needed to confirm the effects of these treatments on reducing fat skatole levels.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Agergaard, N, Laue, A 1998. Absorption of skatole to portal vein blood and liver turnover in entire male pigs using an in vivo animal model. In Skatole and boar taint (ed. W Jensen), pp. 7795. Danish Meat Research Institute, Roskilde, Danemark.
Akoh, CC, Min, DB (eds) 1998 Food lipids: chemistry, nutrition and biotechnology. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York.
Andresen, Ø 2006. Boar taint related compounds: androstenone/skatole/other substances. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 48 (suppl. 1), S5.
Avantaggiato, G, Havenaar, R, Visconti, A 2003. Assessing the zearalenone-binding activity of adsorbent materials during passage through a dynamic in vitro gastrointestinal model. Food and Chemical Toxicology 41, 12831290.
Babol, J, Squires, EJ, Lundström, K 1999. Relationship between metabolism of androstenone and skatole in intact male pigs. Journal of Animal Science 77, 8492.
Babol, J, Zamaratskaia, G, Juneja, K, Lundström, K 2004. The effect of age on distribution of skatole and indole levels in entire male pigs in four breeds: Yorkshire, Landrace, Hampshire and Duroc. Meat Science 67, 351358.
Chen, G, Bourneuf, E, Marklund, S, Zamaratskaia, G, Madej, A, Lundström, K 2007. Gene expression of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in relation to androstenone, testosterone, and estrone sulphate in gonadally intact male and castrated pigs. Journal of Animal Science 85, 24572463.
Chen, G, Ren, L, Yang, SM, Qiu, J, Kamal-Eldin, A, Lundström, K 2010. Determination of androstenone levels in porcine plasma by LC-MS/MS. Food Chemistry 122, 12781282.
Claus, R 1979. Pheromone bei säugetieren unter besonderer berücksichtigung des ebergeruchstoffes und seiner beziehung zu anderen hodensteroiden. Fortschritte in der Tierphysiologie und Tierernährung 10, 1136.
Claus, R, Mahler, G, Münster, E 1988. Determination of boar taint steroid 5α-androst-16-en-3-one in adipose tissue of pigs with a rapid microtiter plate enzyme-immunoassay (MTE). Archiv Für Lebensmittelhygiene 39, 8791.
Claus, R, Weiler, U, Herzog, A 1994. Physiological aspects of androstenone and skatole formation in the boar – a review with experimental data. Meat Science 38, 289305.
Claus, R, Dehnhard, M, Herzog, A, Bernal-Barragan, H, Gimenez, T 1993. Parallel measurements of indole and skatole (3-methylindole) in feces and blood plasma of pigs by HPLC. Livestock Production Science (Netherlands) 34, 115126.
Claus, R, Lösel, D, Lacorn, M, Mentschel, J, Schenkel, H 2003. Effects of butyrate on apoptosis in the pig colon and its consequences for skatole formation and tissue accumulation. Journal of Animal Science 81, 239248.
Cooper, DA, Berry, DA, Spendel, VA, King, D, Kiorpes, AL, Peters, JC 1997. Olestra dose response on fat-soluble and water-soluble nutrients in the pig. The Journal of Nutrition 127 (suppl. 8), 1573S1588S.
Dabrowski, A, Podkoscielny, P, Hubicki, Z, Barczak, M 2005. Adsorption of phenolic compounds by activated carbon--a critical review. Chemosphere 58, 10491070.
Dehnhard, M, Bernal-Barragan, H, Claus, R 1991. Rapid and accurate high-performance liquid chromatographic method for the determination of 3-methylindole (skatole) in faeces of various species. Journal of Chromatography 566, 101107.
Döll, S, Dänicke, S, Valenta, H, Flachowsky, G 2004. In vitro studies on the evaluation of mycotoxin detoxifying agents for their efficacy on deoxynivalenol and zearalenone. Archives of Animal Nutrition 58, 311324.
Galvano, F, Pietri, A, Bertuzzi, T, Bognanno, M, Chies, L, Angelis, A, Galvano, M 1997. Activated carbons: in vitro affinity for fumonisin B1 and relation of adsorption ability to physicochemical parameter. Journal of Food Protection 60, 985991.
Hansen, LL, Mejer, H, Thamsborg, SM, Byrne, DV, Roepstorff, A, Karlsson, AH, Hansen-Mølle, J, Jensen, MT, Tuomola, M 2006. Influence of chicory roots (Cichorium intybus L) on boar taint in entire male and female pigs. Animal Science 82, 359368.
Huwig, A, Freimund, S, Kappeli, O, Dutler, H 2001. Mycotoxin detoxification of animal feed by different adsorbents. Toxicology Letters 122, 179188.
Jen, K, Squires, EJ 2011. In vitro assessment of the effectiveness of non-nutritive sorbent materials as binding agents for boar taint compounds. Animal (in press).
Meijer, L, Hafkamp, AM, Bosman, WE, Havinga, R, Bergman, Å, Sauer, PJJ, Verkade, HJ 2006. Non-absorbable dietary fat enhances disposal of 2,2′,4,4′-tetrabromodiphenyl ether in rats through interruption of enterohepatic circulation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54, 64406444.
Oser, BL, Oser, M 1956. Nutritional studies on rats on diets containing high levels of partial ester emulsifiers: I. General plan and procedures; growth and food utilization. Journal of Nutrition 60, 367390.
Raeside, JI, Christie, HL, Renaud, RL 1999. Metabolism of oestrone and oestradiol-17β to conjugated steroids by the accessory sex glands of the male pig. Journal of Endocrinology 163, 4953.
Rhodes, DN 1971. Consumer testing of bacon from boar and gilt pigs. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 22, 485490.
Roberts, MS, Magnusson, BM, Burczynski, FJ, Weiss, M 2002. Enterohepatic circulation: physiological, pharmacokinetic and clinical implications. Clinical Pharmacokinetics 41, 751790.
Ruoff, WL, Dziuk, PJ 1994. Absorption and metabolism of estrogens from the stomach and duodenum of pigs. Domestic Animal Endocrinology 11, 197208.
Schwarzenberger, F, Toole, GS, Christie, HL, Raeside, JI 1993. Plasma levels of several androgens and estrogens from birth to puberty in male domestic pigs. Acta Endocrinol (Copenhagen) 128, 173177.
Sinclair, PA, Squires, EJ 2005. Testicular sulfoconjugation of the 16-androstene steroids by hydroxysteroid sulfotransferase: its effect on the concentrations of 5alpha-androstenone in plasma and fat of the mature domestic boar. Journal of Animal Science 83, 358365.
Sinclair, PA, Squires, EJ, Raeside, JI 2001a. Early postnatal plasma concentrations of testicular steroid hormones, pubertal development, and carcass leanness as potential indicators of boar taint in market weight intact male pigs. Journal of Animal Science 79, 18681876.
Sinclair, PA, Squires, EJ, Raeside, JI, Britt, JH, Hedgpeth, VG 2001b. The effect of early postnatal treatment with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist on the developmental profiles of testicular steroid hormones in the intact male pig. Journal of Animal Science 79, 10031010.
Sinclair, PA, Hancock, S, Gilmore, WJ, Squires, EJ 2005. Metabolism of the 16-androstene steroids in primary cultured porcine hepatocytes. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 96, 7987.
Solfrizzo, M, Visconti, A, Avantaggiato, G, Torres, A, Chulze, S 2000. In vitro and in vivo studies to assess the effectiveness of cholestyramine as a binding agent for fumonisins. Mycopathologia 151, 147153.
Solfrizzo, M, Carratu’, MR, Avantaggiato, G, Galvano, F, Pietri, A, Visconti, A 2001. Ineffectiveness of activated carbon in reducing the alteration of sphingolipid metabolism in rats exposed to fumonisin-contaminated diets. Food and Chemical Toxicology 39, 507511.
Squires, EJ, Lundström, K 1997. Relationship between cytochrome P45011E1 in liver and levels of skatole and its metabolites in intact male pigs. Journal of Animal Science 75, 25062511.
Zamaratskaia, G, Squires, EJ 2008. Biochemical, nutritional and genetic effects on boar taint in entire male pigs. Animal 1, 114.
Zamaratskaia, G, Babol, J, Andersson, HK, Andersson, K, Lundström, K 2005a. Effect of live weight and dietary supplement of raw potato starch on the levels of skatole, androstenone, testosterone and oestrone sulphate in entire male pig. Livestock Production Science 93, 235243.
Zamaratskaia, G, Madej, A, Babol, J, Squires, EJ, Lundström, K 2005b. Free oestrone in adipose tissue and its relation to androstenone and skatole in entire male pigs. Reproduction in Domestic Animals 40, 156160.


Efficacy of non-nutritive sorbent materials as intestinal-binding agents for the control of boar taint

  • K. Jen (a1) and E. J. Squires (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed