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09/12/2016

Campaign against surgical castration of piglets censored

Agriculture & Food

Campaign against surgical castration of piglets censored

Most male piglets are still surgically castrated, despite the existence of an effective vaccine against boar taint.

[Heather Paul/Flickr]

An advertising company and a French departmental prefect have taken down posters criticising the surgical castration of male piglets, in an effort to protect “public order”. Our partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

85% of male pigs in France are castrated. The pigs’ scrotums are cut open and their testicules removed, with no anaesthetic, when they are just a few days old.

This highly painful procedure is carried out to prevent boar taint, a bad smell or taste that can occur during the cooking of meat from uncastrated male pigs. And it was a poster campaign called “Couic”, organised by the Welfarm association in Brittany and the department or the Sarthe, that caught the attention of the agricultural lobby: the campaign was simply censored.

A threat to public order

In Brittany, the advertising company Clear Channel took the initiative and removed the posters in the town of Brest, as a precaution of against the “risk of action by farmers”. In the Breton towns of Langueux and Saint-Brieuc, the posters were not even displayed.

And in the department of the Sarthe, the local prefect stepped in and had the posters taken down from the streets of Le Mans, “to prevent any risk to public order”.

Nearly two thirds of France’s pork farms are located in the North West of the country.

France promises belated progress on animal welfare

The French Ministry for Agriculture has launched a four-year animal welfare strategy, a first for the country, which is far behind its European partners in this respect. EurActiv France reports.

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Practices from another age

“These excessive reactions are out of proportion with Welfarm’s efforts to build a dialogue and the purely informative nature of the posters,” the association said. Welfarm added that it has been deprived of “the opportuity to inform the general public about a practice from another age”.

Fatter pigs

Ordered by the European Union in 2010 to change their practices by 2018, pork farmers spent several years looking for alternatives to surgical castration. The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) explored two possibilities: non-castration and immunocastration (by injection).

Under the first hypothesis, 5% of uncastrated carcasses would have to be tested at the abattoir for boar taint, and the agri-food business would have to say goodbye to fatter, castrated pigs. Certain sectors, like the producers of geographically protected Bayonne ham, for example, have already warned that they would not be prepared to enforce a ban on castration.