Boar taint is an offensive odor, which 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 two measures of boar taint was 0.37, suggesting that genetic selection against boar taint based on only one 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 zero. In conclusion, skatole and androstenone can be reduced through selection without affecting important economical production and litter size traits. Thus, animal breeding offers an effective and sustainable solution to surgical castration of male piglets.
Journal of Animal Science, 2013, Vol 91, Issue 6, p. 2587-2595