How to raise entire male pigs and immunocastrates

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    This research has a practical purpose: to study the experience on farms where non-castrated male pigs are produced. What advantages and disadvantages experience the pig farmers who switched early to the production of entire male pigs and immunocastrates? Which best practices exist to deal with increased aggressive or sexual behaviour in these animals, or to optimise performances? How do we evaluate the different possibilities of enrichment material and shelter, delivery strategy, feeding and lighting schedules in practice? What are the experiences regarding the timing of vaccination for immunocastrates, the influence of the number of feeding places on performances and aggression in intact boars? Various Belgian retailers have encouraged production of entire boars (presently 15% of all slaughtered male pigs in Flanders). Until recently, all male piglets were surgically castrated without anesthesia to prevent boar taint. As of 2018, the pork industry has committed to ending that practice and instead plans to rear entire male pigs and immunocastrates.


    Research approach
    Early-adopter farms are surveyed regarding their experience with rearing entire male pigs and immunocastrates. Based on this responses, we identify problems, advantages and disadvantages that occurred during and after the changeover. The best working practices are identified and used to provide guidance and guidelines for the companies that have not yet switched to the new practices. We provide information on the effects on management (relating to behaviour and performances). We organise at least two demonstrations on experimental farms to provide more information on the importance of the timing of the second vaccination in immunocastrates, the influence of the number of feeding places on performance and the (reduced) aggression in entire males. Three additional demonstrations are conducted at various pig farms.


    The results of this study are immediately translated to a sector that must be ready for a significant change in production: stopping the surgical castration of male piglets. This translation has two aspects. First we share the early experiences with immunocastrates and entire male pigs. Additionally, we show how to optimise the rearing of entire male pigs and immunocastrates in terms of animal behaviour, performances and carcass results by adapting management, etc. Dissemination of this information takes place via seminars, newsletters, brochures and articles. The second aspect is to organise meetings where farmers who have either already switched or plan to switch can discuss their experiences, the required management changes and their performance results.

    Funding provider(s)
    Vlaamse Overheid - L&V ADLO

    External partner(s)
    Broederschool Biotechnische en Sport Sint-Niklaas
    Hogeschool Gent
    KHK - Katholieke Hogeschool Kempen
    Proef- en vormingscentrum vd Landbouw
    Effective start/end date1/07/1330/06/15