Raising entire males or immunocastration? Research of measures for boar taint reduction and emerging problems of product quality

Project short L4-5521
Cooperation programme Slovenian Research Agency / Javna agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost Republike Slovenije
Cooperation programme short ARRS
Project partners Univerza v Ljubljani, Biotehniška fakulteta - Institute of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology
Univerza v Ljubljani, Biotehniška fakulteta - Zootechnical Department
University of Maribor - Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Kmetijski inštitut Slovenije, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia - Animal Production Department
Start date 08/01/2013
End date 07/31/2016
Project web page http://www.sicris.si/public/jqm/prj.aspx?lang=eng&opdescr=search&opt=2&subopt=400&code1=cmn&code2=auto&psize=1&hits=1&page=1&count=&search_term=%C4%8Dandek&id=8721&slng=&order_by=
Contact person Marjeta Čandek
Scientific theme animal science; boar taint; meat science; animal nutrition
Description of project Surgical castration of piglets is a routine practice in pig production used as a preventive measure to avoid boar taint, un unpleasant smell which develops with puberty in uncastrated male pigs. This practice is presently being questioned in the EU and there is a strong initiative to end it until 2018. The initiative is presently voluntary, however EC strongly supports the actions which have been taken by the stakeholders (see EC decison OJ EU 2011/C 243/06 on key research necessities). However, before a decision related to ending of this practice is put into force, a lot of potential problems need to be addressed in view of the adaptation of pig sector. This project is designed to answer some issues of scientific and practical relevance related to two most viable alternatives, the raising of entire males (boars) and immunocastration. Measures to reduce the prevalence of boar taint (the causative compounds are androstenone and skatole which accumulate in the fat tissue of uncastrated male pigs) concern genetic factors and herd management (nutrition, hygiene and health status). The level of androstenone depends on sexual maturity (genotype), its reduction by means of genomic selection seems feasible, but it is a long-term challenge. Moreover the majority of pig production in Slovenia is based on imported genetic lines making the issue less urgent for national research. Therefore the project will study possibility for boar taint reduction by means of nutrition. In particular, studying the potential influence of the diet supplemented with tannins. Tannins are susceptible to affect skatole metabolism due to their effect on protein utilization and interaction with gut microbiota. It is therefore reasonable to expect that skatole metabolism could be affected by tannins, which we plan to investigate in the proposed project. Due to the lack of the literature data on that matter, this study provides scientific originality but has also relevance for economy (namely one of the main producers of tannin reach wood extracts Tanin, Sevnica is located in Slovenia). Another objective of the proposed project relates to the nutrition of immunocastrates, the other viable alternative to surgical castration. Immunocastrates are a new 'type' of animals and there are a lot of unanswered questions related to the feeding strategies in order to preserve their boar-like potential for growth and body composition after the immunocastration becomes effective. In the present study we plan to study the consequences of restricting energy level (10 and 15% energy reduction) of their diet. If raising boars is to become a predominant practice in pig meat production, the problems of meat quality could emerge (not only related to boar taint) due to lower water holding capacity and tenderness of such meat. This is another hypothesis which we plan to address in the project by studying the aetiology of the phenomenon at structural and proteomic level. Moreover both alternatives, raising entire and castrated males will also be evaluated for dry-cured ham ‘kraški pršut’ processing (in relation to salt intake and product quality), another approach interesting not only scientificaly, but also economically due to the importance of this product at a national level.
Additional information Project The project is based on the research of three objectives related to actuality in pig production which concerns the ending of surgical castration of male piglets. It deals with questions of interest in two alternatives, raising of entire males or immunocastrates: 1: Reducing risk of boar taint by means of nutrition – effect of tannins supplementation. 2: Feeding strategies for immunocastrated pigs and product quality. 3: Emerging meat quality problems in relation to raising of entire males. Involved researchers: Marjeta Čandek Potokar, Škrlep Martin, Nina Batorek Lukač (Kmetijski inštitut Slovenije, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, Animal Production Department); Janez Salobir, Gorazd Avguštin (Univerza v Ljubljani, Biotehniška fakulteta, Zootechnical Department); Gregor Fazarinc, Valentina Kubale Dvojmoč (Univerza v Ljubljani, Biotehniška fakulteta, Institute of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology); Dejan Škorjanc, Maja Prevolnik Povše (University of Maribor, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences)
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Kmetijski inštitut Slovenije