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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Animal Genetics

Genetic parameters for androstenone and skatole as indicators of boar taint and their relationship to production and litter size traits in Danish Landrace1


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 91 No. 6, p. 2587-2595
    Received: Nov 19, 2012
    Accepted: Mar 7, 2013
    Published: November 25, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. A. B. Strathe 2,
  2. I. H. Velander,
  3. T. Mark* and
  4. H. N. Kadarmideen*
  1. Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
    Danish Agriculture and Food Council, Pig Research Centre, Axeltorv 3, 1609 Copenhagen V, Denmark


Boar taint is an offensive odor that affects the smell and taste of cooked pork, resulting mainly from the accumulation of skatole and androstenone in the back fat of intact males. The aim of the study was to estimate genetic parameters for skatole and androstenone and their genetic relationship to production and litter size traits. Concentrations of skatole and androstenone in the back fat were available for approximately 6,000 and 1,000 Landrace boars, respectively. The concentrations were log-transformed to align phenotypic measures to a normal distribution. Heritability estimates for Log(skatole) and Log(androstenone) were 0.33 and 0.59, respectively. The genetic correlation between the 2 measures of boar taint was 0.37, suggesting that genetic selection against boar taint based on only 1 of the chemical compounds could be insufficient. The boar taint compounds had low and mostly favorable genetic correlations with the production traits. Most noticeable, a favorable genetic correlation of –0.20 between meat percentage and Log(skatole) was estimated and hence continued selection for lean pigs can also slowly reduce the level of boar taint if the desired carcass weight is kept constant. The relationship between litter size traits (measured on sows related to boars) and boar taint compounds was low and not significantly different from 0. In conclusion, skatole and androstenone can be reduced through selection without affecting important economical production and litter size traits. Therefore, animal breeding offers an effective and sustainable solution to surgical castration of male piglets.

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