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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2005

Boar taint is related to endocrine and anatomical changes at puberty but not to aggressive behaviour in entire male pigs

Zamaratskaia Galia, Rydhmer Lotta, Chen Gang, Madej Andrzej, Andersson Kristina, Lundström Kerstin


This study aimed to describe the association between incidence of boar taint and pubertal changes in gonadal hormones, size of reproductive organs and aggressive behaviour in entire male pigs. In total, 111 entire male pigs were included in the study. Sampling was performed first at 90 kg live weight (LW) and, then, at 115 kg LW. Variables measured were skatole and androstenone levels in plasma and fat, testosterone and oestrone sulphate in plasma, free oestrone in fat, weight of testes and length of bulbourethral glands. Aggressive interactions between pigs were registered when a limited amount of feed was provided to the pigs prior to routine feeding. The number of initiated interactions (attacks) and the difference between number of initiated and received interactions (relative attacks) were calculated for each pig. Multivariate analysis revealed that gonadal hormones and reproductive organ size influenced prevalence of boar taint, accounting for 30% of the variation in skatole levels in fat and for 37% of the variation in androstenone levels in fat. These relations were independent of aggression levels in entire male pigs. Skatole levels were influenced by the levels of oestrone sulphate in plasma and free oestrone in fat, but not levels of plasma testosterone. Pigs with testes weight below 565 g and a bulbourethral gland length <90 mm did not produce high amounts of skatole; therefore, these values can be used as a threshold level to detect pig carcasses with low skatole levels. High androstenone levels could not be predicted by measuring reproductive organ sizes. More research is required to develop a rapid and accurate method for the analysis of carcasses of entire male pigs

Published in

Reproduction in Domestic Animals
2005, Volume: 40, number: 6, pages: 500-506
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell