Alternatives to pig castration

Alternatives to pig castration

European Declaration on alternatives to surgical castration of pigs

Surgical castration, practiced for centuries to remove an unpleasant odor from pork known as 'boar taint' and prevent undesirable sexual and aggressive behaviour in pigs, has become a significant animal welfare concern in recent years. Research has proven that this surgical procedure inflicts pain, even on very young pigs.

Castrations have been normally performed without using anaesthesia or analgesia. This has affected some hundreds of millions animals annually. With changing social values, however, many consumers have called for pigs to be treated with less painful and invasive practices.

On the invitation of the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency and following a workshop on alternatives for pig castration, representatives of European farmers, meat industry, retailers, scientists, veterinarians and animal welfare NGOs met in Brussels to discuss the issue of pig castration and its possible alternatives, and to consider the possibilities to end this practice. The working group met three times in 2010.

As a first step, the organisations which voluntarily signed the declaration agreed to use prolonged analgesia and/or anaesthesia when performing surgical castration of pigs from 1 January 2012. Nevertheless castration with analgesia and/or anaesthesia is not an alternative option.

As a second step and in the long term, surgical castration of pigs should be abandoned by 1 January 2018.


IMPORTANT: Endorse the Declaration

The European Partnership on Pig Castration aims to:

  • develop methods to phase out the surgical castration of pigs by 2018,
  • make sure that costs of transition are shared in a fair way.

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Signatories to the European Declaration on alternatives to surgical castration of pigs

Legislation - general conditions

Alternatives to pig castration

Publications - Results of previous research