Farm specific strategies to reduce boar taint

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal

    The "Taintless" research project answers industry demand and benefits consumers by building on previous studies to support the ban on castration of male piglets in the pig industry. At present, it is not yet clear why a (very) small minority of intact boars develop so-called boar taint in their fat and meat. In this project, we want to determine the risk factors for boar taint. Are there high-risk and low-risk farms for boar taint? What farm-specific factors are responsible? Are there also slaughter-related factors? Can boar taint be reduced by breeding boar selection? How can we support slaughterhouses in detecting boar taint at the slaughter line? Now that several retailers are marketing meat from non-castrated pigs, it is for the first time possible to conduct a large-scale, longitudinal field study in Flanders to determine both situation-specific and farm-specific risk factors for boar taint.

    Research approach
    We develop a cost-efficient sensory method to detect boar taint caused by increased levels of skatole and/or androstenone. We validate on-line detection methods currently used or in development in the slaughterhouse. We conduct a large-scale and longitudinal field study in Flemish pig farms that have already switched to raising entire males to learn the prevalence of boar taint, the variation in this prevalence and to identify possible risk factors. We implement four reduction strategies in five farms with high prevalence of boar taint to demonstrate their feasibility and effectiveness. We focus on studying if and how sires with a smaller chance of tainted offspring can be identified.


    This project is highly relevant for the pig industry. The reduction of boar taint is a way to take advantage of the commercial opportunity of raising entire males. By doing so it strengthens the international competitiveness of the Flemish pig sector. We also support the slaughterhouses in setting up a detection system for boar taint by providing them with the necessary know-how. We contribute to the final solution for a well-known animal welfare problem (the practice of castrating piglets without any anesthesia). The switch to raising entire males is only possible if consumer can be guaranteed taint-free meat - in other words, when we succeed in reducing the prevalence of boar taint on the farms AND set up a system for the detection of tainted carcasses on the slaughter line. The feasibility and effectiveness of the tested reduction strategies is communicated and demonstrated to the stakeholders. These efforts stimulate broader implementation of the new strategies.

    Funding provider(s)
    IWT - Instituut voor de aanmoediging door wetenschap en technologie in Vlaanderen

    External partner(s)
    KULeuven - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen
    Effective start/end date1/10/1331/12/17

    Data Management Plan flag for FRIS

    • DMP not present


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