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Attitudes, practices and state of the art regarding piglet castration in Europe (PIGCAS) - Project goals and first results [Standpunkte, Praktiken und Kenntnisstand zur Ferkelkastration in Europa (PIGCAS) – Projektziele und erste Ergebnisse]

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards


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Most of the male piglets in the EU are castrated. According to the current EU legislation, surgical castration can be performed without anaesthesia up to the age of 7 days. A report of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the welfare aspects in relation to the castration of pigs has underlined the need for further research. As a follow up, the EU has launched a two-year project (Specific Support Action PIGCAS) within the 6th EU Framework Programme, starting in January 2007. “PIGCAS” is the acronym for “Attitudes, practices and state of the art regarding piglet castration in Europe”. The main objectives are: [A] to collect information on the attitudes of the various stakeholders (consumer groups, NGOs and industry stakeholders); [B] to collect information on the extent of the practice of castration of piglets (male or female) within the EU and the conditions under which castration is performed; [C] to evaluate research work and other sources of information, in order to examine surgical castration without anaesthesia and its possible alternatives from different perspectives and derive research priorities; and [D] to integrate the collected information and evaluation in a report providing support for EU policy in the field of research and legislation. Preliminary results are now available on objectives [A] and [B]. When referring to the alternatives to surgical castration, one has to distinguish between short-term and long-term solutions. Surgical castration with anaesthesia was mentioned by most of the stakeholders as a short-term alternative. Genetic control of boar taint and sperm sexing to select only females for pork production are considered as long-term alternatives. Current practices of castration and levels of acceptability vary substantially between and within countries and regions. The current research focuses on practical methods for acute and postoperative pain alleviation and analyses the complex consequences of raising entire males or immunocastrated boars. Considering the different dimensions (attitudes, extent of practice, animal welfare, pork quality and economy) of importance, it is intended to propose to the EU short and long-term strategies to handle this problem.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Von Borrell E, Oliver M, Fredriksen B, Edwards S, Bonneau M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal fuer Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit

Year: 2008

Volume: 3

Issue: 2

Pages: 216-220

ISSN (print): 1661-5751

ISSN (electronic): 1661-5867

Publisher: Birkhaeuser Verlag AG


DOI: 10.1007/s00003-008-0332-x


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