Male piglets are castrated to reduce boar taint and also to reduce aggressive and sexual behaviour. However, the procedure as traditionally performed is painful and negatively affects performance. Large-scale results about the consequences of implementing alternatives on farms are lacking. We, therefore, investigated the practical applicability of the following five alternatives that can be implemented in the short term: surgical castration (1) without pain relief (CONT, control group), (2) with analgesia (MET, Metacam, 0.2 ml, 10 to 15 min before castration), (3) with general anaesthesia (CO2, inhalation, 100% CO2, 25 s, 3 l/min), (4) vaccination against boar taint (IM, two injections with Improvac) and (5) production of entire males (EM). The study consisted of the following two trials: (1) an experimental farm trial with 18 animals/treatment and (2) a large field trial on 20 farms with ~120 male pigs/farm per treatment and all treatments performed on each farm. Performance results as well as data on carcass traits, boar taint (hot-iron method) and testes development and weight were collected in both trials. Neither castration nor administration of analgesia or anaesthesia had an effect on daily gain of the piglets in the farrowing crates (P>0.05). Farmer records indicated that mortality in the farrowing crates (1.1%), nursery pens (1.8%) and fattening stable (2.2%) was not influenced by MET or CO2 compared with EM, IM or CONT (P>0.05). No significant differences were found for daily gain (P>0.05) nor slaughter age (P>0.05). Immunocastrates and EM had a better gain-to-feed ratio (P<0.05) compared with the groups of barrows (CONT, MET and CO2). Lean meat percentage was higher for EM compared with the barrows, and intermediate for IM (P<0.05). Carcass yield was lowest for IM (P<0.05). The hot-iron method indicated that boar taint was eliminated in barrows and IM compared with EM (P<0.001). Average prevalence of strong boar taint was 3% for EM, but varied from 0% to 14% between farms. As the effect of treatment on performance as well as the level of boar taint of EM was farm dependent, farmers should be encouraged to pre-test the different alternatives in order to make a well-considered choice for the best practical and profitable alternative for their farm.