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Relationship between boar taint and age at slaughter

Full title: Opinion of the FRCAW on the slaughter age of uncastrated male pigs and risk of boar taint
Requested by:
Office of Animal Protection (BPA) - French Directorate General for Food (DGAL) - French Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Date of request: 30/04/2018
Delivery date: 21/12/2019


The FRCAW was asked by the DGAL on 30 April 2018 to carry out a state of the art review of the scientific and technical knowledge available on the relationship between the age at slaughter of uncastrated male pigs and the occurrence of associated sexual odours.

The purpose of this literature review was to provide evidence to either justify or cancel an upcoming experiment intended to establish the age limit for the slaughter of male pigs to prevent boar taint.

Main conclusions of the FRCAW

1. From the relevant bibliography it is clear that weight associated with age and puberty has a direct (androstenone) and indirect (scatol) impact on boar taint.

2. Reduction of weight at slaughter can therefore be used as a lever to reduce the risk of odour. Such a lever is however far from sufficient as many factors other than age and weight affect concentrations of odour compounds in boars.

3. Several options can be followed to reduce the risk of boar taint to an acceptable level:

  • genetic selection (choice of genotypes and intra-genotype selection based on least-risk criteria) to limit the production of androstenone
  • optimisation of rearing conditions to limit production and absorption of scatol (for boars, castrated male and sows).

4. It appears difficult, however, to fully reduce the risk of odour from boar carcasses. It therefore seems important to consider the use of carcasses with taint.