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Genetic Parameters for Androstenone and Skatole as Indicators of Boar Taint

10 April 2013

Danish research shows that skatole and androstenone can be reduced by genetic selection without adverse effects on economic parameters (production and litter size traits). The scientists suggest breeding is a better alternative to the castration of male pigs.

Boar taint is an offensive odour, which affects the smell and taste of cooked pork, resulting mainly from the accumulation of skatole and androstenone in the back fat of intact males, explain A.B. Strathe of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues there and at the Danish Agriculture & Food Council's Pig Research Centre.

The aim of their study published in Journal of Animal Science was to estimate genetic parameters for skatole and androstenone and their genetic relationship to production and litter size traits.

Concentrations of skatole and androstenone in the back fat were available for approximately 6,000 and 1,000 Landrace boars, respectively. The concentrations were log-transformed to align phenotypic measures to a normal distribution.

Heritability estimates for Log(skatole) and Log(androstenone) were 0.33 and 0.59, respectively.

The genetic correlation between the two measures of boar taint was 0.37, suggesting that genetic selection against boar taint based on only one of the chemical compounds could be insufficient.

The boar taint compounds had low and mostly favourable genetic correlations with the production traits. Most noticeable, a favourable genetic correlation of -0.20 between meat percentage and Log(skatole) was estimated and hence continued selection for lean pigs can also slowly reduce the level of boar taint if the desired carcass weight is kept constant.

The relationship between litter size traits (measured on sows related to boars) and boar taint compounds was low and not significantly different from zero.

Skatole and androstenone can be reduced through selection without affecting important economical production and litter size traits, according to Strathe and co-authors. Thus, they added, animal breeding offers an effective and sustainable solution to surgical castration of male piglets.

Reference

Strathe A.B., I.H. Velander, T. Mark and H.N. Kadarmideen. 2013. Genetic parameters for androstenone and skatole as indicators of boar taint and their relationship to production and litter size traits in Danish Landrace. 2013. J. Anim. Sci., March 18, 2013 jas.2012-6107. doi: 10.2527/jas.2012-6107

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

April 2013

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