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Performances, meat quality and boar taint of castrates and entire male pigs fed a standard and a raw potato starch-enriched diet

  • C. Pauly (a1) (a2), P. Spring (a1), J. V. O’Doherty (a2), S. Ampuero Kragten (a3) and G. Bee (a3)...


In Europe there is increasing concern about the common practice of surgical castration of piglets without anaesthesia. One possible alternative to completely avoid castration is entire male pig production. Thus, the objective of the study was to compare the growth performance, carcass characteristics, organ weights, meat quality traits, fat score and boar taint compounds in the adipose tissue of group-penned entire male pigs and castrates. Furthermore, the effect of raw potato starch (RPS) fed for 7 days prior to slaughter was determined. Pigs (n = 36) were blocked by BW into 12 blocks (3 littermates/block) and assigned to three experimental groups: surgical castrates (C); entire males (EM); and entire males offered RPS (30 g RPS/100 g diet) for 7 days prior to slaughter (EM+). Pigs had ad libitum access to the feed from 22 to 107 kg, individual feed intake was recorded daily and BW once a week. Entire males grew slower (EM: 771, EM+: 776 v. C: 830 g/day; P < 0.01), consumed less feed (EM: 1.87, EM+: 1.89 v. C: 2.23 kg/day; P < 0.01) and were more efficient (feed conversion ratio: EM: 2.42, EM+: 2.44 v. C: 2.69 kg/kg; P < 0.01) than C. Compared to C, carcass dressing percentage was lower (EM: 79.4, EM+: 79.4 v. C: 81.6%; P < 0.01) and percentage of valuable cuts was higher (EM: 57.3, EM+: 56.5 v. 52.6%; P < 0.01) in entire males. The hearts (EM: 426, EM+: 425 v. C: 378 g), kidneys (EM: 387, EM+: 378 v. C: 311 g), bulbourethral (EM: 200, EM+: 195 v. C: 7 g) and salivary glands (EM: 99, EM+: 94 v. C: 42 g) were heavier (P < 0.001) in entire males than in C. Meat quality traits did not (P > 0.05) differ among experimental groups but the adipose tissue was more unsaturated in entire males than in C as indicated by the higher fat scores (EM: 69.1, EM+: 67.2 v. C: 63.6; P < 0.01). Feeding RPS reduced (P = 0.04) the skatole tissue concentrations (expressed in μg/g lipid) in EM+ (0.22) compared to EM (0.85), whereas androstenone and indole levels were not (P ⩾ 0.60) affected (EM: 1.7 and 0.10, EM+: 2.0 and 0.09, respectively). Although the current results confirmed the high efficiency of entire males compared to castrates, the observed high androstenone levels represent a major challenge to implement entire males production.


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