Resource efficiency and economic implications of alternatives to surgical castration without anaesthesia

K. de Roest, C. Montanari, T. Fowler, W.H.M. Baltussen

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    37 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper presents an analysis of the economic implications of alternative methods to surgical castration without anaesthesia. Detailed research results on the economic implications of four different alternatives are reported. castration with local anaesthesia, castration with general anaesthesia, immunocastration and raising entire males. The first three alternatives have been assessed for their impact on pig production costs in the most important pig-producing Member States of the EU. The findings on castration with anaesthesia show that cost differences among farms increase if the anaesthesia cannot be administered by farmers and when the veterinarian has to be called to perform it. The cost of veterinarian service largely affects the total average costs, making this solution economically less feasible in small-scale pig farms. In all other farms, the impact on production costs of local anaesthesia is however limited and does not exceed 1 (sic)ct per kg. General anaesthesia administered by inhalation or injection of Ketamin in combination with a sedative (Azaperone, Midazolan) is more expensive. These costs depend heavily on farm size, as the inhalation equipment has to be depreciated on the largest number of pigs possible. The overall costs of immunocastration - including the cost of the work load for the farmer - has to be evaluated against the potential benefits derived from higher daily weight gain and feed efficiency in comparison with surgical castrates. The economic feasibility of this practice will finally depend on the price of the vaccine and on consumer acceptance of immunocastration, The improvement in feed efficiency may compensate almost entirely for the cost of vaccination. The main advantages linked to raising entire males are due to the higher efficiency of feed conversion, to the better growth rate and to the higher leanness of carcass. A higher risk of boar taint on the slaughter line has to be accounted for Raising entire males should not generate more than 2.5% of boar taint among slaughter pigs, in order to maintain the considerable economic benefits of better feed efficiency of entire males with respect to castrates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1522-1531
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • intact male pigs
    • growth-performance
    • piglet castration
    • vaccine improvac
    • boars
    • gnrh
    • quality
    • carcass

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