Weighing the sustainability benefits of immunological castration in Europe

calendar icon 10 December 2021
clock icon 4 minute read

For example, they wrote, “In immunocastrates, performance results are better than in barrows but worse than in boars. The environmental impact of pork production with immunocastrates is lower than with barrows but higher than with boars.”

Compared to boars, the level of aggression is considerably lower in vaccinated pigs, they added. Meanwhile, societal concerns are mainly related to food safety and are not supported by any scientific evidence.

Finding the right balance

Since vaccinated pigs perform like barrows following the second vaccination, the researchers suggested that the timing of the second dose may allow producers to tailor product quality to the demands of different pork markets. Ultimately, they said, the decision has to be balanced between the conflicting aims of desirable, boar-like growth efficiency and lean meat content, on the one hand, with the superiority of barrows in terms of behavior and meat quality on the other.

“High product quality with low boar-taint levels and higher levels of intramuscular fat work well with production systems which optimize welfare aspects through an early second vaccination. These advantages have to be balanced against the higher anabolic potential of boars which can create economic and environmental benefits,” they wrote.

“The later the second vaccination is applied, the better its effects for the environment and for farm profitability.

“Within the value chain, targeted communication about the impact of the timing of the second vaccination is essential in order to make use of this opportunity to produce meat quality tailored to various market segments with different impacts on sustainability.”

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