GREENSBURG, Ind. – Male pigs are castrated to reduce aggression in the herd and to avoid “boar taint” which is an off-odor that can develop in cooked meat sourced from male pigs. But a veterinarian, who also raises pigs, is testing an alternative to pig castration at his nursery-to-finish facility in Greensburg.

Instead of being castrated, male pigs at the facility are given two doses of a prescribed, Food and Drug Administration-approved product that works like an immunization to reduce the naturally occurring substances that cause boar taint. Zoetis Inc., a Florham Park, New Jersey-based global animal health company, makes the drug which the company believes will give pork producers all the benefits of intact male pigs — faster growth and better feed conversion — without the negative traits associated with intact male pigs.

“Individuals actively involved in pig production immediately notice the lack of vocalization and activity that goes on in the boar pens,” Larry Rueff, DVM, and farm owner, said. “Other visitors comment on the cleanliness, access to feed and water, and calm, relaxed demeanor of the pigs.”

Rueff added that not castrating pigs reduces the risk of infection, which potentially could lower mortality rates in pigs. Worker safety is another benefit because “Anything we can do to take sharp blades out of people’s hands — that’s a benefit from a safety standpoint,” Rueff said.