Raising intact male pigs for meat: Detecting and preventing boar taint

JinLiang Xue, Gary D. Dial

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Although there are several advantages to raising intact male pigs instead of castrates, boar taint--an unpleasant odor that emanates from boar fat when it is heated--is a potential problem with rearing boars for pork. Two groups of compounds are considered primarily responsible for boar taint: 16-androstenes (mainly 5[alpha]-androstenone) and skatole. The 16-androstene steroids are largely secreted in the testes and then transported to fat tissues. Skatole is produced in the intestine by bacteria and also stored in fat tissues after absorption. Chemical and sensory tests are commonly used to detect boar taint in pork. Chemical tests typically assess tissue concentrations of the compounds associated with taint. Threshold values are proposed for fat concentrations of androstenone and skatole, 1.0 ppm and 0.25 ppm, respectively. Sensory tests classify boar carcasses into either tainted or untainted categories according to test criteria assessed by human evaluators. Human perception of androstenone is under genetic control. Approximately half of adults are not sensitive to androstenone. Men are less sensitive than women. Human perception of androstenone changes with age and can be induced. Since sensory panels are sensitive, trained, and frequently exposed to taint compounds, prevalence of tainted carcasses detected by the panels is much higher than that detected by consumers. Several methods have been studied to identify and prevent tainted carcasses. Genetic selection, reducing slaughter weight, immunization of boars against gonadotropin releasing-hormone (GnRH), and injection of GnRH agonist have resulted in decreased fat concentrations of androstenone.

Keywords: boars, taint, skatole, androstenone, intact males

RIS citationCite as: Xue JL, Dial GD. Raising intact male pigs for meat: Detecting and preventing boar taint. J Swine Health Prod 1997;5(4):151-158.

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