RESEARCH on immunocastration of pigs has shown benefits for the animal as well as the end consumer.
Department of Agriculture research officer Darryl D'Souza said immunological castration was increasingly being used in Australia, with Western Australia leading the way in the adoption of this technology.
Dr D'Souza said research by the Department, which concluded last year, showed there were multiple benefits from using immunological castration.
"Aside from the obvious benefits to the animal's welfare, immunological castrated male pigs had 10-15 percentage higher daily growth rates than entire male pigs," Dr D'Souza said.
"Our study found immunological castrated male were leaner than surgically castrated male pigs and had less carcass damage than entire male pigs," he said.
"Consumer taste panel studies indicated that pork from immunological castrates had better flavour and overall acceptability compared to pork from entire male pigs."
Immunological castration is undertaken using a vaccine called Improvac from the CSL Animal Health Laboratories. Dr D'Souza presented the findings during a recent study tour of Denmark.
He said one of the major issues affecting pig production in Europe was the welfare implications of surgical castration. A number of countries in the European Union require surgical castration to be performed by a certified veterinarian and the procedure must performed with anesthesia.
Dr D'Souza's travel was funded by the Australasian Pig Science Association as recipient of the 2001 Batterham Memorial Award, Australian Pork Limited and the Department of Agriculture, WA.