Most EU Pigs Still Castrated Without Anaesthetic

EU - Over 96 million pigs a year are castrated without anaesthetic in the European Union.
calendar icon 10 December 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

In Britain, castration of pigs - with or without anaesthetic - is voluntarily outlawed by producers, which is one of the reasons repeated consumer surveys show shoppers prefer to buy British pork.

Seventy-seven per cent of pigs in the European Union are castrated without any form of pain relief being administered, according to researchers in a European Union project ‘Attitudes, practices and state of pig castration in Europe’.

Some pigs are castrated illegally, according to researchers, as producers flout the European law that requires a vet-administered pain-killer be given if castration takes place after seven days of birth.

In 88 per cent of the cases analysed in the European Union project, farmers rather than vets carry out the castration.

As retailers and consumers across Europe become increasingly concerned about animal welfare, alternatives to castration are being considered, including immunocastration, a technique recently authorised in the European Union.

The majority of pig producers in continental Europe wish to continue castrating without anaesthetic as it is the cheapest and most convenient way to prevent boar taint and to improve handling of males as they near slaughter weight.

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