Reference: Centred on Swine. Volume 24, Number 2
Many recent studies have compared intact males and castrates, or castrates and Improvest® treated males. This study is rare in that it includes females, castrates, Improvest® treated males and intact males from the same litters, all tested under similar conditions. These comparisons provide valuable information on differences that can be expected for both producers and packers to plan for and make decisions related to options for control of boar taint. This study confirmed the advantages of raising intact males in terms of growth performance compared to females and castrates. Improvest® treatment is an interesting option because it gives the benefit of improved growth performance of intact males while producing carcasses of similar composition to castrates. Genetic selection based on specific genetic markers shows potential for producing intact males with naturally low enough levels of androstenone and skatole to avoid boar taint problems.
However, more research is needed on genetic evaluation methods, consideration of influence of genetics from the maternal breeds and to incorporate newly identified genetic markers. The impact of management and environment also needs to be considered as large differences in the levels of boar taint were observed between trials. The combination of management and genetics could result in lower and lower probability of carcasses from intact males having boar taint. A new technology based on DNA aptamers shows great promise to lead to a reliable, practical and affordable screening test for boar taint. This could be in the form of a simple kit similar to a home pregnancy test available for humans. The ability to screen for boar taint combined with genetic selection to lower the frequency of intact males that have boar taint problems could lead to a viable alternative for control of boar taint.