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Breeding potential of selection against boar taint

Breeding potential of selection against boar taint

Zuchtungskunde 86(5-6): 297-318

Within the European Union, it can be expected that surgical castration without anaesthesia will be banned until 2018. Besides immunocastration and surgical castration with anaesthesia, fattening of entire males seems to be an attractive alternative. However, a broad expansion of this practice is problematic due to boar taint which is mainly caused by the pheromone androstenone and bacteria degradation product skatole. In the present study, 1010 Pietrain sired crossbred boars of five German testing stations were tested for fattening traits and boar taint components. In several sensory studies, boars with contents of androstenone and skatole of 250 ng/g and 500 ng/g fat, respectively, or alternatively 160 ng/g and 2000 ng/g backfat, were classified as boars with increased risk of developing boar taint. Using these thresholds, about 50% to 60% of the entire males were assigned to the corresponding risk groups. Different variations of environmental factors including, husbandry (single, group penned), season (summer, winter) and slaughter weight (85 kg, 95 kg) were investigated. In contrast to the slaughter weight, age at slaughtering had a significant (skatole, indole) or tendential (androstenone) effect on boar taint components. Corresponding coefficients of regression for skatole and androstenone were 1,4 ng/g and 7,2 ng/g backfat per day. Group penned boars showed significant higher androstenone (60 ng/g) and skatole (107 ng/g) compared to single penned pigs. Higher concentration in androstenone could be the result of social interactions between boars, whereas different levels in skatole could be explained by different faecal contamination. Comparing diverging seasonal periods, 60 ng/g higher levels androstenone were found in the winter group with declining length of daylight. Regarding skatole, seasonal differences up to 170 ng/g could only be ascertained within two test stations. It is more likely, that these deviations are the result of specific fattening conditions like health or feeding than by length of daylight. In a similar manner, differences between various test stations could be the results of different housings systems of the boars and genetic effects. Estimated correlations between boar taint components and fattening traits indicated that lean boars had a reduced risk of boar taint due to androstenone. Other correlations of fattening traits and boar taint components were estimated only within a range of -0.2 to +0.2, which did not allow further interpretation.

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