Painful animal welfare

An eu agreement on deprivation-free piglet castration could lead to young boars having their penises broken for three months

The european agreement on alternatives to castration of pigs provides that from 2017 no more castrations without stunning will be carried out. Critics, however, do not see this regulation as an extension of animal welfare, but rather as a restriction of it: because castration does put the piglet under stress for a short time – but according to the german society for breeding science (dgfz), this stress also occurs when the animal is subjected to elaborate anesthesia.

Some animal welfare activists therefore recommend the boar fattening to breeders, in which the animals are not castrated at all. The farmer matthias walser has tested this boar fattening, for which there is still little experience, and has revealed the results to the bavarian broadcasting corporation. It was already known that uncastrated boars become aggressive during puberty and jump each other. Walser found out that the boars also bite their penises and regularly inflict considerable injuries on themselves over a period of three months. The br broadcast our country documented this effect last week with rather drastic shots.

Painful animal welfare

Instead of drastic pictures, a feel-good picture for sensitive minds: sow with sucking piglet. Photo: public domain.

Walser tried to change the behavior of the boars, but neither straw nor more space brought positive changes. Therefore, if the pigs are not castrated, they are spared a short pain, but they suffer for a long time. For the farmer "nothing more to do with animal welfare".

How the european agreement, which could result in such animal torture under the flag of animal welfare, between 2. September and 19. November 2010, it is no longer possible to fully understand how this came about. In any case, however, there are actors who have an economic interest in it: for example, the pharmaceutical industry can hope for significantly increased sales of painkillers and anesthetics to be administered to piglets in the future prior to permitted castration. Manufacturers of medical technology expect a sharp increase in sales of expensive anesthesia devices. And veterinarians look forward to being paid to do a job that the farmer used to do on his own.

The costs for this were allowed to be passed on to the consumers, who were disadvantaged by the boar fattening: three quarters of germans are sensitive to the testicular steroid androstenone contained in the meat of uncastrated boars, which only develops its unpleasant odor when heated. Until now, consumers of local pork could be relatively sure that they would not have to throw the product away and deflate the kitchen after cooking or roasting it. In the future, rapid chemical tests at slaughterhouses will detect androstenone levels.

Allegedly there are only two percent of boars "stinker", in whose meat the androstenone content is unacceptably high. On the other hand, the meat is two to three percent leaner and fetches a higher price. However, there is a risk that consumers will no longer buy pork without labeling the schnitzels and roasts according to gender if they have caught a few stinky cuts. Under the thereby threatening loss of sales also farmers were suffered, who do not set on the ebermast.

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