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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Effect of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone vaccine (Improvac (TM)) on steroid hormones, boar taint compounds and performance in entire male pigs

Zamaratskaia, G.; Andersson, H. K.; Chen, G.; Andersson, K.; Madej, A.; Lundstrom, K.


The objective of this study, comprising two trials, was to evaluate the effect of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH-vaccine Improvac(TM); Pfizer Ltd) in a sample of the Swedish pig population. The pigs (n = 120) were assigned to three groups: control (entire male pigs), surgical castration and immunization against GnRH. Surgically castrated pigs did not express detectable levels of either testosterone or estrone sulphate (E1S) in plasma, or androstenone in fat and had lower skatole and indole levels in fat than entire male pigs. Immunization significantly reduced testes weight and bulbourethral gland length, plasma levels of the testicular hormones testosterone and E1S, and fat levels of androstenone, skatole and indole. Skatole levels in plasma were significantly lower than in entire male pigs in the second trial, but not in the first due to overall low skatole levels. All immunized pigs and surgically castrated pigs expressed skatole concentrations in fat below the level of 0.2 mu g/g, above which meat is regarded as tainted. In contrast, eight entire male pigs exceeded this level. Indole levels in plasma from immunized pigs were lower than those from entire male pigs. Surgical castration caused lower daily weight gain in the suckling period compared with piglets raised intact, whereas in the post-weaning period no difference was observed. Immunization resulted in higher feed intake and daily weight gain after the second injection. The estimated lean meat content was improved in comparison with the castrated pigs, but was lower than for entire male pigs. Dressing percentage was lower in immunized pigs than in surgically castrated and entire male pigs. The frequency of skin damage did not differ between immunized and entire male pigs or between immunized and surgically castrated pigs.

Published in

Reproduction in Domestic Animals
2008, Volume: 43, number: 3, pages: 351-359