SPACE: Castration puzzle for French pig farmers

The castration of piglets without anesthesia will be prohibited in France from January 1, 2022. Even if this moment is only 3 months away, in the French pig industry, many questions remain as to how to anticipate this.

The issue of castration was highlighted during the recent ESPACE lounge in Rennes, France. In parallel symposia, attention was paid to the changes underway.

If castration is not to be practiced, it means less work for the producers.  -Photo: Herbert Wiggerman

If castration does not have to be done, it means less work for the producers. -Photo: Herbert Wiggerman

Many slaughterhouses are not ready to accept boars

Castration regulations are giving French pig farmers a hard time, explained Valérie Courboulay (photo), animal welfare specialist at the French Institute of Pork and Pork (IFIP). The main problem is that many slaughterhouses as well as meat processors are not prepared to process largely whole meat. Currently, around 25% of male pigs are not castrated in France – with the hope that this number will rise to 30% by the end of the year.

There are currently 3 alternatives for pig farmers: whole breeding, the use of immunocastration or the use of local anesthetics with analgesics. Performing full anesthesia on piglets is a job that pig producers are not allowed to do. So far, it is unclear which option will be the most prevalent by 2022. Corboulay said the market will be the leader in this area.

Piglet castration rules are unclear

Another thing that is not 100% clear to pork producers is how anesthetics will need to be applied and under what conditions. For local anesthetics, lidocaine can be used. Also, a strategy involving the Tri-solfen type gel is currently in sight to play a role, even if the latter product is still in the experimental phase and has not been approved for use.

Vaccination to prevent physical castration of piglets

Immunocastration by vaccination is a niche in France. About 30% of producers have chosen this approach. They produce for a special concept for finishing pigs that are sent for slaughter at 150 kg, in which physical castration is not allowed.

Cooperl: Leading the way

The French pig cooperative Cooperl is the only slaughterhouse in France treating whole boars. Pig farmers want to stop castration. For them, there are obvious advantages, such as less work and better technical performance. Insiders say there is no going back. The bill has become law and will enter into force in 3 months. Animal welfare organizations have put a lot of pressure on the pork industry to stop producers from castrating.

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