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Tannins have long been considered ‘anti-nutritional’ factors in monogastric nutrition, shown to reduce feed intake and palatability. However, recent studies revealed that compared with condensed tannins, hydrolysable tannins (HT) appear to have far less impact on growth performance, but may be inhibitory to the total activity of caecal bacteria. This in turn could reduce microbial synthesis of skatole and indole in the hindgut of entire male pigs (EM). Thus, the objective of this study was to determine the impact of a group of dietary HT on growth performance, carcass traits and boar taint compounds of group housed EM. For the study, 36 Swiss Large White boars were assigned within litter to three treatment groups. Boars were offered ad libitum one of three finisher diets supplemented with 0 (C), 15 (T15) or 30 g/kg (T30) of HT from day 105 to 165 of age. Growth performance, carcass characteristics, boar taint compounds in the adipose tissue and cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoenzymes CYP2E1, CYP1A2 and CYP2A19 gene expression in the liver was assessed. Compared with C, feed efficiency but not daily gain and daily feed intake was lower (P<0.05) in T15 and T30 boars. Except for the percentage carcass weight loss during cooling, which tended (P<0.10) to be greater in T30 than C and T15, carcass characteristics were not affected by the diets. In line with the numerically lower androstenone level, bulbourethral and salivary glands of T30 boars were lighter (P<0.05) than of T15 with intermediate values for C. Indole level was lower (P<0.05) in the adipose tissue of T30 than C pigs with intermediate levels in T15. Skatole levels tended (P<0.10) to be lower in T30 and C than T15 pigs. Hepatic gene expression of CYP isoenzymes did not differ between-treatment groups, but was negatively correlated (P<0.05) with androstenone (CYP2E1 and CYP1A2), skatole (CYP2E1, CYP2A) and indole (CYP2A) level. In line with the numerically highest androstenone and skatole concentrations, boar taint odour but not flavour was detected by the panellists in loins from T15 compared with loins from C and T30 boars. These results provide evidence that HT affected metabolism of indolic compounds and androstenone and that they affected the development of accessory sex glands. However, the effects were too small to be detected by sensory evaluation.
Today, different analytical methods are used by different laboratories to quantify androstenone in fat tissue. This study shows the comparison of methods used routinely in different laboratories for androstenone quantification: Time-resolved fluoroimmunoassay in Norwegian School of Veterinary Science (NSVS; Norway), gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry in Co-operative Central Laboratory (CCL; The Netherlands) and in Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA; Spain), and high-pressure liquid chromatography in Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Research Station (ALP; Switzerland). In a first trial, a set of adipose tissue (AT) samples from 53 entire males was sent to CCL, IRTA and NSVS for determination of androstenone concentration. The average androstenone concentration (s.d.) was 2.47 (2.10) μg/g at NSVS, 1.31 (0.98) μg/g at CCL and 0.62 (0.52) μg/g at IRTA. Despite the large differences in absolute values, inter-laboratory correlations were high, ranging from 0.82 to 0.92. A closer look showed differences in the preparation step. Indeed, different matrices were used for the analysis: pure fat at NSVS, melted fat at CCL and AT at IRTA. A second trial was organised in order to circumvent the differences in sample preparation. Back fat samples from 10 entire males were lyophilised at the ALP labortary in Switzerland and were sent to the other laboratories for androstenone concentration measurement. The average concentration (s.d.) of androstenone in the freeze-dried AT samples was 0.87 (0.52), 1.03 (0.55), 0.84 (0.46) and 0.99 (0.67) μg/g at NSVS, CCL, IRTA and ALP, respectively, and the pairwise correlations between laboratories ranged from 0.92 to 0.97. Thus, this study shows the influence of the different sample preparation protocols, leading to major differences in the results, although still allowing high inter-laboratory correlations. The results further highlight the need for method standardisation and inter-laboratory ring tests for the determination of androstenone. This standardisation is especially relevant when deriving thresholds of consumer acceptance, whereas the ranking of animals for breeding purposes will be less affected due to the high correlations between methods.
The objective of the study was to compare growth performance, carcass characteristics, meat quality and fatty acid composition of the adipose tissue of group-penned barrows, immunocastrated boars and entire males. Furthermore, the effect of housing of entire males on the aforementioned parameters was evaluated. At 55.2 days of age, 52 Swiss Large White pigs were blocked by litter and assigned by BW to four experimental groups: barrows (C), immunocastrated boars (IC), entire males (EMG) reared in group pens and entire males (EMP) reared in individual pens. In experiment 1, the effects of the method of castration were investigated (experimental groups C, IC and EMG). In experiment 2, the effects of housing on entire male pigs were evaluated (experimental groups EMG and EMP). All pigs had ad libitum access to standard diets from weaning to 107 kg BW. The two vaccinations (Improvac®) were applied to the IC pigs at an average BW of 22.6 and 73.0 kg. In experiment 1, average daily gain (ADG) did not (P > 0.05) differ among the experimental groups. However, EMG consumed less feed and had a better feed-conversion ratio than C (P < 0.001 for each). For IC, intermediate values were observed, which differed (P < 0.001) from EMG and C. Lean meat percentage decreased (P < 0.05) from EMG to IC, and from IC to C. The androstenone and skatole levels were higher (P < 0.05) in the adipose tissue of EMG than IC and C. Shear force values were higher (P < 0.01) in the longissimus muscle of C and EMG, compared to IC. The concentration of saturated fatty acid in the adipose tissue increased (P < 0.001) from EMG to IC, and from IC to C pigs, and that of polyunsaturated fatty acid decreased (P < 0.001). In experiment 2, ADG did not (P > 0.05) differ between EMP and EMG. However, EMP pigs consumed more feed than EMG pigs and had a poorer feed efficiency (P < 0.01 for each). In conclusion, EMG pigs had a better feed efficiency than IC pigs and their carcasses were leaner, but the risk of boar tainted pork was elevated. Group-housing negatively affected average daily feed intake but not ADG of entire males. At the moment, immunocastration offers a good approach to avoid castration and minimize the risk of boar taint.
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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