Meat Articles on Animal Welfare

Castration of male livestock intended for meat production is a long standing management practice. In North American swine production, castration is essentially universal and only a select few male pigs are left intact as potential breeder boars. There are two primary reasons for feeding out barrows rather than boars in pork production. The first is behavioral. As the age and body size of sexual maturity is reached, boars tend to be more aggressive with pen mates and more difficult to handle than barrows of similar age and weight. The second and perhaps most important reason is that meat from boars that are nearing sexual maturity (about 200 lbs. body weight) has high potential for an odor and flavor problem commonly called “boar taint.” Boar taint refers to objectionable odor and flavor characteristics that many consumers detect in cooked pork from intact males.