Driving Pigs to Stunning


Welcome to this learning resource on the pre-slaughter handling of pigs and its effect on meat quality and animal welfare.

Control of Salmonella in Pig Farms


Welcome to this learning resource on control of Salmonella in pig farms.

Animal Health at Farm Level: PMWS and PRRS


Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and Post-weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) are two of the most important diseases affecting pig production. They are both viral disease and were first noticed roughly 20 years ago. The initial cases of both diseases followed changes in husbandry and intensification of pig production in both North America and Europe, and it is now thought that specific farming practices led to the spread and subsequent increase in severity of these diseases. The practices included implementation of indoor production systems, increases in herd size and stocking density, early weaning and abrupt changes from milk to creep feed at weaning. These, combined with changes in environmental factors such as temperature and relative humidity in pens that can affect herd hygiene, were key aspects in the emergence of the diseases. It is thought that the PRRS virus and PCV2 (the causal agent of PMWS) had been present in pig herds for decades if not centuries before the diseases emerged, and the viruses slowly mutated into disease-causing forms. In earlier times, pigs were kept on small-scale farm and successful transmission of the disease was less likely, if not impossible.

Fundamentals of Meat's Water Holding Capacity


Welcome to this learning resource on fundamentals of water holding capacity (WHC) of meat!

This learning resource consists of six sections:

Entire Male Pigs


Welcome to this learning resource on entire male pigs!

It has been known since the Middle Ages that meat from a small minority (up to 10 %) of entire male pigs has an unpleasant odour, the so-called boar taint. The sensibility to boar taint is different between consumers and it can only be detected by some of the consumers and mainly when the pork is heated (Støier, 2010).

Problems with boar taint are nevertheless the primary reason for castration being routinely performed on the majority of male pigs in commercial meat production. Castration also results in reduced aggressive and sexual behaviour between pigs and a higher proportion of fat in carcasses.

Entire male pigs are preferred for meat production for several reasons. They are more efficient than castrates at converting feed into lean meat and, because they are slaughtered at an earlier age, they have less negative impact on the environment. However, castration has economic drawbacks in that it impairs growth for some days after surgery and involves extra labour. In recent years knowledge about the pain and animal welfare issues related to castration, and consumer concerns, have focused greater attention on the castration of male pigs.

In this learning resource we will explain the reasons for boar taint, consider methods of detecting and measuring boar taint, and discuss the alternatives to castration. The point of departure is that all stakeholders prefer entire male pigs with high meat quality, rather than castrated pigs. We will discuss the dilemma of poor welfare associated with castration (pain and risk to the health of the animals) and the poor welfare of uncastrated pigs farmed in confined spaces (stress and fighting, resulting in skin lesions and ultimately carcass damage).

The scientific report on the animal welfare aspects of the castration of piglets has been peer-reviewed by the members of the Scientific Panel for Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The report was adopted in 2004.

Security Guide for Pork Producers


"Security Guide for Pork Producers" has been developed to offer guidelines for producers to use it when insuring that their farms are secure.

Fabrication of the Hotcuts - Videos


This series of 31 videos is designed to assist users with guidelines and images relevant in the production and preparation of the pork meat.