Controlling boar taint in uncastrated organic boars is possible, but not economically viable, according to a report by the Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture (DCA).
Historically, male pigs have been castrated to prevent boar taint, an unpleasant odor that can develop when cooking meat from entire males. In organic pig production, the aim is to avoid castration, the DCA states, and scientists from Aarhus University have shown that boar taint can be reduced in entires by slaughtering them at lower weights and finishing them with diets of chicory or grain.
However, new calculations by the same scientists indicate that these methods are not sufficient to prevent major economic losses caused by boar taint incidence and the lower slaughter weights needed in organic boar production.
The calculations showed that compared to organic barrows raised to 86 kg, organic boars faced a 20.9% cull rate due to boar taint, which moved the gross profit margin per pig down to 25.08 and 83.95 per unit space. Barrows produced a gross profit margin per pig of 48.68 and 63.06 per allocated pen space per year.
The study also examined the effects of feeding uncastrated organic boars chicory root or grain in the final finishing days and slaughtering at the lighter weight of 61 kg. While feeding chicory reduced the cull rate to as little as 8.6 percent, the lighter weight combined with cull rate was not sufficient to equal the gross margins achieved with organic barrows.