"During the past three years LEI has been carrying out a study for the 'Stop castration' project on the request of a collaborative arrangement between the government and the business community via the Product Board for Livestock and Meat. LEI began its study by making an inventory of solutions for pig farming without castration. This resulted in the Removing the taint report."
'Our objective is to persuade the Netherlands and, ultimately, Europe, to stop the castration of piglets. Castration is painful for pigs - and castrating pigs is an unpleasant job for pig farmers. Moreover, uncastrated pigs grow better.
Consequently, there are many reasons why castration should be stopped. However, market acceptance of boar pork is a condition attached to the feasibility of stopping castration. We asked LEI researcher Gé Backus to take on the programme management of a long-term study to examine options for the achievement of our objective, as Gé has a great deal of expertise in the fields of consumer behaviour and market acceptance.’
Solution: LEI is helping us to achieve market acceptance
‘During the past three years LEI has been carrying out a study for the 'Stop castration' project on the request of a collaborative arrangement between the government and the business community via the Product Board for Livestock and Meat. LEI began its study by making an inventory of solutions for pig farming without castration. This resulted in the Removing the taint report.
Following the publication of this report LEI continued with its studies by cooperating with parties including the business community in finding answers to the question: How can we breed pigs with a reduced boar taint ? The objective is to develop an internationally-accepted for the detection of boar taint. LEI is providing the scientific substantiation that will help us achieve market acceptance.’
‘We are making use of the results from LEI's studies as scientific substantiation in our endeavours to convince our pork customers, the retail sector. The availability of an opportunity to detect boar taint is then extremely important. Our efforts are succeeding: by now 40% of Dutch pigs are no longer castrated - which provides increased funds for the primary business, in part due to the improved growth of uncastrated pigs.’
Many farmers have already stopped castration and I hope that everyone will do so in the future. However, unfortunately we can achieve this objective only when the national and international markets accept boar pork. LEI, in its role as a player on the international podium, is in an ideal position to ensure that issues are raised for discussion, for example between research institutes. Consequently, LEI can impart an impetus to a wide variety of issues.’
Annechien ten Have-Mellema is the Chair of the Dutch Organisation for Agriculture and Horticulture's pig farming department and Chair of the 'Stop castration' research programme.