Boar taint is an unpleasant taste and odor that can occur in entire male pigs and is caused by androstenone, skatole, and to a lesser extent indole accumulating in fat tissue. In the present observational study, we evaluated an extensive list of such potential risk factors which influence boar taint: social hierarchy and puberty attainment, housing, health, preslaughter conditions, season, feed, carcass composition, slaughter weight or age, and breed. Details on these factors were collected by interviews with the participating farmers, observations on each farm by trained observers and farmers, as well as slaughterhouse data. Twenty-two farms (in West- and East-Flanders, ranging from 160 to 600 sows, selected on suitability) raising entire male pigs were included in the study to evaluate the link between boar taint and potential risk factors related to the farm and slaughter batch (114 slaughter batches and 16 791 entire male pigs in total). Average olfactory boar taint prevalence was 1.8 ± 0.8%. Boar taint prevalence varied also within farms up to a maximum range between slaughter batches of 9.1% which suggests an effect of factors varying between slaughter batches such as season or other variables varying between slaughter batches. Less aggressive behavior at the end of fattening as well as lower skin lesion scores at fattening as well as at slaughter could be associated with less boar taint. The same might be said for sexual behavior, though less convincingly from this study. Measures that reduce aggression and stress have therefore have the potential to lower boar taint prevalence. The same might be said for sexual behavior, though less convincingly from this study. Furthermore, boar taint prevalence was generally higher in winter than in summer, which is relevant from a planning perspective for the slaughterhouses to seek alternative markets. Finally, increased CP gave significantly lower boar taint prevalences. This may to some extent be explained by the negative association between boar taint and lean meat percentage, as increased dietary CP levels promote the carcass lean meat percentages which can then be associated with lower boar taint levels.
- Risk Factors
- Sexual Maturation