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Papers of the Week

2022 Jun 24

Animals (Basel)



A Scenario Analysis for Implementing Immunocastration as a Single Solution for Piglet Castration.


Lin-Schilstra L, Ingenbleek PTM
Animals (Basel). 2022 Jun 24; 12(13).
PMID: 35804523.


Painful castration of male piglets to avoid boar taint can potentially be replaced by three more ethical alternatives: entire male production in combination with a detection method, immunocastration (an active vaccination against the gonadotrophin-releasing factor, GnRF), and castration with pain relief (anesthesia and/or analgesia). With the aim of abandoning piglet castration and facilitating internal trade, the European Union (EU) was initially in favor of a single alternative. Immunocastration was proposed as a potential solution, but it has not yet been sufficiently assessed regarding its market potential. To address this point, this paper uses scenario analysis to examine whether and under what conditions immunocastration could be the general solution sought by the EU. The study constructs two extreme scenarios: one in which all uncertain elements negatively influence the growth of immunocastration; another in which all uncertain elements have positive influences. These scenarios provide insights into the variance in possible futures for the implementation of immunocastration. The results show that it is unlikely that immunocastration will become a single solution for all producers in the EU, because it is not the optimal solution for all types of EU pork production systems (i.e., cost-efficiency oriented, quality oriented, animal-friendly oriented, import dependent). Rather than debating and looking for evidence about which single method is the best for the entire EU, EU authorities are advised to allow the co-existence of all alternatives and to develop protocols for applying them in the pork industry.