History of Pig Castration

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Johanna Mörlein


The widespread castration of non-anaesthetized pigs has been questioned, since scientifically there is no doubt about pain without anesthesia during the procedure.  Public outcries have led to changes in European law. These facts shed light on why there is now growing interest in the fattening of uncastrated male pigs as an alternative. The occurrence of an off-odor in the fatty tissue of the fattened, uncastrated male pigs, however, continues to hinder the widespread adoption of this method in Europe and, in this case, Germany. Castration is, indeed, a longstanding method but it was usually implemented for breeding purposes and aggression reduction. In other words, it was used for very pragmatic reasons for management and handling. The reviewed ancient literature contradicts the widespread opinion that maintains that pig castration has always been used to prevent off-odors in meat produced for human consumption.

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Johanna Mörlein, University of Göttingen