Fifteen Large White boars were randomly allocated to three groups of five pigs. The boars were slaughtered over a period of time at one of three live weights: group 1 (pork weight), 63 to 68 kg (mean age 141 days), group 2 (bacon weight), 90 to 97 kg (mean age 203 days) and group 3 (heavy weight), 121 to 133 kg (mean age 268 days). Testes, bulbourethral glands, submaxillary salivary glands, blood and thoracic fat were taken from each pig and the glands weighed and steroids determined in extracts of the submaxillary glands, blood plasma and fat. Testosterone and the boar taint steroid, 5a-androstenone (5a-androst-16-en-3-one) were measured in plasma by radioimmunoassay (RIA). 3a-androstenol (5a-androst-16-en-3a-ol) and 5a-androstenone were determined separately in submaxillary glands by gas-liquid chromatography and together semi-quantitatively by a colour reaction. 5a-androstenone was also determined in submaxillary glands by RIA and in fat by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Mean somatic characteristics differed significantly between the groups, but due to the wide variation in steroid concentrations between individual boars, mean differences for steroid concentrations between groups were not significant.
Significant positive correlations were found in boars between bulbourethral gland weight, submaxillary gland weight, concentrations of 3a-androstenol and 5a-androstenone in the submaxillary gland and concentrations of free plasma 5a-androstenone and fat 5a-androstenone (P < 0·05). The application of a simple colour reaction to detect readily extractable 16-androstene steroids (16-androstenes) in submaxillary gland tissue is discussed in relation to other methods for determining boar taint.