Genetic parameters for androstenone, skatole, indole, and human nose scores as measures of boar taint and their relationship with finishing traits

Windig, J.J.; Mulder, H.A.; Napel, J. ten; Knol, E.F.; Mathur, P.K.; Crump, R.E.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate measures of boar (Sus scrofa) taint as potential selection criteria to reduce boar taint so that castration of piglets will become unnecessary. Therefore, genetic parameters of boar taint measures and their genetic correlations with finishing traits were estimated. In particular, the usefulness of a human panel assessing boar taint (human nose score) was compared with chemical assessment of boar taint compounds, androstenone, skatole, and indole. Heritability estimates for androstenone, skatole, and indole were 0.54, 0.41, and 0.33, respectively. The heritability for the human nose score using multiple panelists was 0.12, and ranged from 0.12 to 0.19 for individual panelists. Genetic correlations between scores of panelists were generally high up to unity. The genetic correlations between human nose scores and the boar taint compounds ranged from 0.64 to 0.999. The boar taint compounds and human nose scores had low or favorable genetic correlations with finishing traits. Selection index estimates indicated that the effectiveness of a breeding program based on human nose scores can be comparable to a breeding program based on the boar taint compounds themselves. Human nose scores can thus be used as a cheap and fast alternative for the costly determination of boar taint compounds, needed in breeding pigs without boar taint.