Examining Alternatives to Painful Piglet Castration Within the Contexts of Markets and Stakeholders: A Comparison of Four EU Countries
...[Castration is] detrimental to the welfare of pigs, especially when carried out by incompetent and inexperienced persons. As a consequence, rules should be laid down to ensure better practicesCOUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2008/120/EC of 18 December 2008
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Case Study Concepts
2.2. Selection of Four Case Countries
2.3. Data Collection
2.4. Data Analysis
2.5. Compliance with Ethical Standards
3.1. The Netherlands
3.1.1. The Structure of the Production/Market System and the Development of the Issue
We did research to look for all possible solutions. We agreed that raising entire males was the best option for us since the Noordwijk Declaration. (NL-FM)
In the Netherlands, we have a stronger culture of discussing matters with each other than is the case in Germany. We call this the “polder model”. (NL-SH)
I really think that the whole chain should see it as a complete practice. So, what kind of quality is desired? For example, consider the boar taint problem. People say that the odor is from boars, but it’s not. It’s because of the whole chain operation—from breeding, animal feeding and so on. When you raise boars, you have to have different feeding plans. So, I think those chains have to join forces in order to achieve a good result of tasty pork. (NL-FM)
We are not in favor of immunocastration, which still involves altering animals to fit human needs. From an ethical point of view, we are opposed to it. Moreover, it poses a major interference in animal’s sexuality, and it’s not necessary in the Netherlands, as the problem can already be solved by raising entire males. (NL-NGO)
So, farmers need to adapt to managing boars. Management will have to adjust a little bit, but not much. We have implemented the detection of boars by smelling, and we are doing this already. We process them separately. (NL-SH)
The need for an alternative is much lower than it was 10 years ago. (NL-RT)
3.1.2. Stakeholder Engagement
Developments in Germany pose the greatest challenge to the Dutch pork industry. Their initial legislation banning castration has been postponed for two years. It is not entirely certain that it will actually be effectuated. (NL-ST)
We are mostly talking to QS, and we have an agreement that they will accept our quality system and our way of working. (NL-FM)
What I see in the research community is that many scientists are dependent on funding. In many cases, the one who is paying for the funding decides which research is to be done. The point is not that the research is not conducted appropriately, but that it is biased towards a certain position. My null hypothesis is that, if large farmers could raise as much money for research as large companies can, the research project portfolio would change a lot. (NL-ST).
[There are people who say that] it is impossible [to raise and sell] pigs older than six months because they would smell. That’s false. (FR-CO)
It makes me nervous to listen to these mistakes. People say, they seem to be certain in saying that the Chinese population doesn’t eat entire-male pork and things like that. It makes me nervous to hear that, because I know it’s false. (FR-CO)
3.1.3. Perceptions with Regard to Future Changes
We are not going all over Europe to lobby for our products. What we do is, for instance, French supermarkets have questions about raising entire males. We go there and tell the story, what our aim is and what we are doing. (NL-FM).
We are quite flexible. (NL-SH)
3.2.1. The Structure of the Production/Market System and the Development of the Issue
The main objective is to convince politicians to pass a law on pig farms that will impose a total ban on piglet castration for the reason of pig welfare. So, we are trying to collect public opinions on the subject. But we are also pressuring retailers, breeders and pharmaceutical companies to cooperate with us. Veterinarians, slaughterhouses and all the main stakeholders should all be working in the same direction. (F-NGO)
The first concern for consumers in France is quality. The second should be the welfare. They will never accept greater welfare if the quality is not good enough. (F-FM)
The quantity of fat is not nearly the same [between entire males and immunocastrates]. And for a few products in France, we need a little bit more fat. For example, dry ham. For this type of product, it’s the reason why some farmers cannot and would never want to produce entire males. The quality is just not good enough to produce this type of product. (F-FM)
3.2.2. Stakeholder Engagement
With our farmers, we share technical and economic data. We have implemented a simulator. The factors that have the greatest impact include the staffing situation, regarding food conversion, lean percentage, slaughter age, weight, etc. And then, with our experience in genetics, we can make some predictions, as farmers can potentially add value in terms of food conversion and slaughter weight. But they might also detract value due to carcasses with boar taint carcass. We pay less for those carcasses. The system assigns value to farms. (F-CO)
We talked with the slaughterhouses to share the cost of researching. But they are not the leader in this issue. It’s up to the farmer to do the research. When the IFIP (French pork and pig institute) researches it, the farmers are paying for them, not the slaughterhouses. If the farms find a good detection solution, we can start our discussion with the slaughterhouses about breeding more entire males. (F-FM)
We speak with retailers. We say, well, these breeders want to move [to entire males], but they are waiting for your confirmation. You as a retailer said that you want to buy entire males…In this way, I tried to bring breeders and retailers into contact with each other. (F-NGO)
We get some Improvac users. Most of them started six or seven years ago, and they’re still using it now. But all of them are selling their products directly [to local consumers]. They are very short chains. Now, only a small group of farmers are using Improvac. But the good thing is that people [who are using Improvac] like the product. (F-PH)
Zoetis is unfortunately the only stakeholder in France who owns immunovaccines. It’s kind of complicated for us. We are not the Zoetis commercial. (F-NGO)
We think that raising entire males is the best solution, as it does not involve any manipulation on animals. We understand that some breeders [who produce for dry hams or organic farmers] can’t use entire males. Immunocastration could be a good solution for them. We think that it would be better to have both of these solutions. We just ban castration. Then we say to the breeders, “You can deal with both of these two alternatives”. (F-NGO)
3.2.3. Perceptions with Regard to Future Changes
The first challenge is to be able to assure the pork industry that there is no boar taint. The quality can be defended. The priority is to work on detection at the slaughterhouse. (F-ST1 )
Perhaps in the future, we can have more products from entire males. But the quality from entire males and immunocastrates is not good enough to produce dry ham. That is the reason why we would like for the farmers to have access to anesthesia. There are some farmers—in fact, part of the industry—who will never want to have entire males. (F-FM)
3.3.1. The structure of the production/market system and the development of the issue
3.3.2. Stakeholder Engagement
We don’t consider immunocastration. The cost is too high. We now have a low margin because of competition from other countries. The price of their meat is very low. We do not have an advantage over these competitors. (SI-CO1)
First, we have some kind of problems with small farms—they have only two or three pigs on the farm, because they want to have their own products. People from the village buy these products directly from these farmers. The farms are not traceable, but the number of small farms is expected to be relatively large. Second, we also face competition from other countries. Governments in these countries provide subsidies to their producers, but we don’t have them. The difference between the production cost in Slovenia and in other countries is between EUR 22 and EUR 26 per pig. Some Slovenian slaughterhouses process this imported meat. the low prices are advantageous to them. (SI-CO2)
Traditional is very important. If consumers have the perception that the product is traditional Slovenian and non-industrial, they will be willing to pay a higher price. (SI-BR)
We had some results, and we published them in a national journal in order to transfer some new knowledge. We intended to present what was taking place in Europe with regard to the issue and to raise awareness that this is something that will become an issue in pig production. We were then attacked, especially by the small farmers, who questioned our motivation, as if we were promoting immunocastration—that we were promoting some changes, as if we were responsible for what is happening, that we were forcing them to introduce the changes. (SI-ST)
The chamber of agriculture has advisories, and they only work with family farms. It’s politics. It’s like some minority groups. Minorities have a loud voice that can be heard over shouting. They are creators of opinions. (SI-ST)
3.3.3. Perceptions with Regard to Future Changes
3.4.1. The Structure of the Production/Market System and the Development of the Issue
This whole discussion is no longer based on facts. The fronts are just totally hardened and, somehow, one shoots at the other. These discussions go around and around. (D-GV)
There are still many veterinarians who are opposed to immunocastration, for whatever reason, and who argue that local anesthesia is justifiable or that farmers should continue (castrating) as before. These veterinarians have thwarted the whole procedure. An opinion from a veterinarian is very dangerous if it is wrong, because it still comes from a veterinarian. (D-GV)
Each method has disadvantages. For example, isoflurane poses a major unknown risk with regard to the working safety of piglet producers. (D-FM)
3.4.2. Stakeholder Engagement
The government’s animal-welfare label is too expensive, and there is a lot of chaos for the farmers, who are not aware of what to do. In the end, the farmer is the victim. In my opinion, stakeholders should replan the whole thing. As a slaughtering company with an animal-welfare program, we cannot market the whole pig. In the Netherlands, they are doing a better job with the Beter Leven programme. There, it is also possible to be economically efficient. (D-SH)
I go out to the companies, and then we also develop our own catalogues of criteria. Thereafter, the farms will have to keep the animals [according to the criteria]. Everything related to the topic of castration is associated with different qualities, including test productions and sniffing the boar odor. This is why I have the coordination. We thus have influence with regard to the criteria. (D-RT)
It is just political that they (supermarkets) say that they can accept everything. They always say publicly that they will accept the methods that consumers prefer. The supermarkets say, “We are not the last link in the chain” (D-SH)
If Mrs Klöckner (the Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture) had said that we are not investing this amount of EUR 20 million in isoflurane, but in immunocastration, we would now be on a completely different path. (D-GV)
3.4.3. Perceptions with Regard to Future Changes
4.1. The Influence of the Development of the Castration Issue
4.2. The Influence of the Production and Marketing System
4.3. The Direction of Stakeholder Debates in Different Production and Market Systems
Institutional Review Board Statement
Conflicts of Interest
- Can you tell me about your professional background? How did you end up in this job?
- What is your duty now in this job?
- From a more general perspective, what are the biggest challenges brought by the piglet castration issue for the German pork industry? (Ask the informant to clarify the challenges by different aspects/levels: economic, political, or social challenge. It could be about customer concerns/satisfaction, NGOs/media pressure, or the change of cultural norm.)
- Compared to the situation of the pork industry five years ago, did this castration issue influence your business? If it did, in which way it affects your work? (Pay attention, if the response is a personal or a professional response) (To be more specific, have you made any changes in your business? What are the reasons? Standing now, what makes them hesitate or pause at this point?)
- Since there are three available methods, how do you evaluate the economic benefits of each new method to your organization?
- Besides the economic benefits, are there other advantages of the three available methods to your organization?
- Each method has its downsides as well, what are the disadvantage of different methods to your organization? (Porter five forces —consumers, retailers, buyer, slaughterhouses, government, moral/ethics, economics, future policies, etc.)
- Some academic research shows that consumers may actually accept the immunocastration method, do you agree with it?
- Now that you’ve mentioned several advantages and disadvantages of each different method, what are the reasons that you believe one of them is better than the other two? (maybe personal goals, political issues, financial concerns, ethical concerns)
- You suggest xx method is better than the other two, is your organization applying it? If yes, do you encounter any difficulties? (internal operation and external collaboration). If not, what are the adjustments you would need to make to use your preferred method, or other methods for that matter?
- Do you observe other stakeholders interested in the same method as you are? By stakeholders, we mean your competitors, your suppliers or customers, and NGOs or the media. (Open-question)
- Do you observe other stakeholders interested in the other two methods? By stakeholders, we mean your competitors, your suppliers or customers, and NGOs or the media. (Open-question) Correspondingly, why do they prefer other methods?
- Assuming that the supply chain is going to take the method you preferred, what are the adjustments the supply chain needs to make? (e.g., logistics, new practices of work flow)
- When was the last time you and other stakeholders discussed about this issue? [continue the question with the specific how and where: how did the conversation take place (formal/informal? In big or small groups? One on one? Where do they happen, in conjunction with another meeting? Who was present? Who involved?)]
- By organizing the various discussions, what are you hoping to accomplish? [The informant may answer: (1) claiming the position, follow-up questions: how do stakeholders state their position for the issue (e.g., no opinion, flexible if others change, unnegotiable); (2) solving a conflict, follow-up questions are: what are the conflicts really about, are they about morals? Money? Or change the old way by doing things in a new way? Who is taking the leading role to solve the conflict? Is there anyone missing from the conversation?; (3) collaborate together to reach an agreement, follow-up questions are: who are involved in the collaboration and what are the motives of collaboration; is there anyone missing from the conversation?; (4) innovating together, follow-up questions: what is the new method being discussed in the meeting? who are involved in the innovation? Who is going to benefit the most from the innovation?
- How do you understand the various ways of communications (verbal, written, formal, or informal) you have engaged in. How do these communications affect your practices, your relationships with stakeholders, and interaction with them?
- Did external stakeholders join the discussions in the past? (e.g., NGOs, government, pharmaceutical companies, etc.) If they did, do they put pressures in your discussion?
- How do you think your preferred method will benefit the industry as a whole?
- Thinking of the pork industry next five years, based on your prediction, how will the castration issue be resolved?
- Based on your prediction, how are you going to adjust your business to the future market? Does your choice of production method play into your market development strategy?
- What is the ideal outcome for this issue? Please specify it in terms of animal welfare, for your own business, for the (sustainability of the) industry, for the government, for the EU, for consumers?
- Is there anything else I should be aware of about the issue?
- Have I missed anything?
- Is there anything you want to add?
- Is there anyone you think I should talk to?
- I Furnols, M.F.; Aaslyng, M.; Backus, G.; Han, J.; Kuznetsova, T.; Panella-Riera, N.; Semenova, A.A.; Zhang, Y.; Oliver, M. Russian and Chinese consumers’ acceptability of boar meat patties depending on their sensitivity to androstenone and skatole. Meat Sci. 2016, 121, 96–103. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Bonneau, M.; Weiler, U. Pros and Cons of Alternatives to Piglet Castration: Welfare, Boar Taint, and Other Meat Quality Traits. Animals 2019, 9, 884. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Čandek-Potokar, M.; Škrlep, M.; Zamaratskaia, G. Immunocastration as Alternative to Surgical Castration in Pigs. Theriogenology 2017, 6, 109–126. [Google Scholar]
- Kress, K.; Weiler, U.; Schmucker, S.; Čandek-Potokar, M.; Vrecl, M.; Fazarinc, G.; Škrlep, M.; Batorek-Lukač, N.; Stefanski, V. Influence of Housing Conditions on Reliability of Immunocastration and Consequences for Growth Performance of Male Pigs. Animals 2019, 10, 27. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Gispert, M.; Oliver, M.; Àngels Velarde, A.; Suarez, P.; Pérez, J.; I Furnols, M.F. Carcass and meat quality characteristics of immunocastrated male, surgically castrated male, entire male and female pigs. Meat Sci. 2010, 85, 664–670. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Von Borell, E.; Baumgartner, J.; Giersing, M.; Jäggin, N.; Prunier, A.; Tuyttens, F.A.M.; Edwards, S.A. Animal welfare implications of surgical castration and its alternatives in pigs. Anim. 2009, 3, 1488–1496. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
- I Furnols, M.F.; Gispert, M.; Guerrero, L.; Velarde, A.; Tibau, J.; Soler, J.; Hortós, M.; García-Regueiro, J.; Pérez, J.; Suárez, P.; et al. Consumers’ sensory acceptability of pork from immunocastrated male pigs. Meat Sci. 2008, 80, 1013–1018. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Di Pasquale, J.; Nannoni, E.; Sardi, L.; Rubini, G.; Salvatore, R.; Bartoli, L.; Adinolfi, F.; Martelli, G. Towards the aban-donment of surgical castration in pigs: How is immunocastration perceived by Italian consumers? Animals 2019, 9, 198. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Crowe, S.; Cresswell, K.; Robertson, A.; Huby, G.; Avery, A.; Sheikh, A. The case study approach. BMC Med. Res. Methodol. 2011, 11, 100. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
- Doolin, B. Information technology as disciplinary technology: Being critical in interpretive research on information systems. J. Inf. Technol. 1998, 13, 301–311. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- De Vries, R.B.; Gordijn, B. Empirical ethics and its alleged meta-ethical fallacies. Bioeth. 2009, 23, 193–201. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Yin, R.K. Getting Started: How to Know Whether and When to Use the Case Study as a Research Method. In Case study research and applications: Design and methods; SAGE Publications: Newbury Park, CA, USA, 2017. [Google Scholar]
- Tomašević, I.; Bahelka, I.; Čítek, J.; Čandek-Potokar, M.; Djekić, I.; Getya, A.; Guerrero, L.; Ivanova, S.G.; Kušec, G.; Nakov, D.; et al. Attitudes and Beliefs of Eastern European Consumers Towards Animal Welfare. Animals 2020, 10, 1220. [Google Scholar]
- Zyglidopoulos, S.C. The Issue Life-Cycle: Implications for Reputation for Social Performance and Organizational Legitimacy. Corp. Reput. Rev. 2003, 6, 70–81. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Greenwood, R.; Oliver, C.; Lawrence, T.B.; Meyer, R.E. Social Movements and the Dynamics of Institutions and Organizations. By Marc Schneiberg and Michael Lounsbury. The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, 2nd ed.; Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Lawrence, T.B., Meyer, R.E., Eds.; SAGE Publications: Newbury Park, CA, USA, 2017. [Google Scholar]
- Greenwood, R.; Raynard, M.; Kodeih, F.; Micelotta, E.R.; Lounsbury, M. Institutional complexity and organizational re-sponses. Acad. Manag. Ann. 2011, 5, 317–371. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- De Briyne, N.; Berg, C.; Blaha, T.; Temple, D. Pig castration: Will the EU manage to ban pig castration by 2018? Porc. Heal. Manag. 2016, 2, 1–11. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Lin-Schilstra, L.; Ingenbleek, P. A complex ball game: Piglet castration as a dynamic and complex social issue in the EU. J. Agric. Environ. under review.
- Aggarwal, R.; Erel, I.; Starks, L.T. Influence of Public Opinion on Investor Voting and Proxy Advisors. Fish. Coll. Bus. Work. Pap. J. 2014, 3–12. [Google Scholar]
- Wartick, S.L.; Mahon, J.F. Toward a substantive definition of the corporate issue construct: A review and synthesis of the literature. Bus. Soc. 1994, 33, 293–311. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Storbacka, K.; Nenonen, S. Markets as configurations. Eur. J. Mark. 2011, 45, 241–258. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Krippner, G.; Granovetter, M.; Block, F.; Biggart, N.; Beamish, T.; Hsing, Y.; Hart, G.; Arrighi, G.; Mendell, M.; Hall, J.; et al. Polanyi Symposium: A conversation on embeddedness. Socio Econ. Rev. 2004, 2, 109–135. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Trienekens, J.; Petersen, B.; Wognum, N.; Brinkmann, D. Introduction to the European pork chain. In European Pork Chains: Diversity and Quality Challenges in Consumer-Oriented Production and Distribution; Plà-Aragonés, L.M., Ed.; Wageningen Academic Publishers: Wageningen, The Netherlands, 2009. [Google Scholar]
- Sommerfeldt, E.J.; Yang, A. Relationship networks as strategic issues management: An issue-stage framework of social movement organization network strategies. Public Relat. Rev. 2017, 43, 829–839. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Golob, U.; Podnar, K. Critical points of CSR-related stakeholder dialogue in practice. Bus. Ethic-A Eur. Rev. 2014, 23, 248–257. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Goodstein, J.D.; Wicks, A.C. Corporate and Stakeholder Responsibility: Making Business Ethics A Two-Way Conversation. Bus. Ethic-Q. 2007, 17, 375–398. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Kaptein, M.; Van Tulder, R. Toward Effective Stakeholder Dialogue. Bus. Soc. Rev. 2003, 108, 203–224. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Backus, G.; Higuera, M.; Juul, N.; Nalon, E.; De Briyne, N. Second Progress Report 2015–2017 on the European Declaration on Alternatives to Surgical Castration of Pigs; Expert Group on ending surgical castration of pigs. Brussels, May 2018. Available online: https://www.boarsontheway.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Second-progress-report-2015-2017-final-1.pdf (accessed on 12 February 2021).
- Volker, S. Sustainability in Pork Production with Immunocastration. Available online: https://era-susan.eu/content/susi (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Bleich, E.; Pekkanen, R. How to Report Interview Data; In Interview research in political science; Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY, USA, 2013; Volume 1, pp. 84–105. [Google Scholar]
- Corbin, J.; Strauss, A. Basics of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.): Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, 2nd ed.; SAGE Publications: Newbury Park, CA, USA, 2008; pp. 1–312. [Google Scholar]
- Kress, K.; Millet, S.; Labussière, É.; Weiler, U.; Stefanski, V. Sustainability of pork production with immunocastration in Europe. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3335. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Federation of Veterinarians of Europe. Pig castration—FVE position paper. Available online: https://fve.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/fve_09_040_castration_pigs_2009.pdf (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Workman, D. Pork Exports by Country. Available online: http://www.worldstopexports.com/pork-exports-by-country/ (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Press, T.A. Sales of Flowers, Pork Push Dutch Farm Exports to New Record. Available online: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/sales-flowers-pork-push-dutch-farm-exports-record-68349017 (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Kemp, B.; Soede, N.; den Hartog, L. Pig production in The Netherlands: Analyses and trends. In Proceedings of the 2011 Manitoba Swine Seminar, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, 2–3 February 2011; pp. 161–167. [Google Scholar]
- Ingenbleek, P.T.; Harvey, D.; Ilieski, V.; Immink, V.M.; De Roest, K.; Schmid, O. The European Market for Animal-Friendly Products in a Societal Context. Animals 2013, 3, 808–829. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Pinckaers, M. The Dutch Food Retail. Report 2019; United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service: Washington, DC, USA, 2019; pp. 1–9. [Google Scholar]
- Mahan, A.T. The Present Predominance of Germany in Europe—Its Foundations and Tendencies. In The Interest of America in International Conditions; Nabu Press: Charleston, CS, USA, 2017; pp. 69–88. [Google Scholar]
- France, third largest pig producer in Europe. Available online: https://www.rotecna.com/en/blog/france-third-largest-pig-producer-in-europe/ (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Marque, P.; Rabade, T.; Fortio, R. Pig Farming in the European Union: Considerable Variations from One Member State to Another; Eurostat: Luxembourg, 2014. [Google Scholar]
- Derksen, B. Off the beaten path farms: France’s Perfect Pig Company. Available online: https://thepigsite.com/articles/off-the-beaten-path-farms-frances-perfect-pig-company (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Weinrich, R. Cross-Cultural Comparison between German, French and Dutch Consumer Preferences for Meat Substitutes. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1819. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Hocquette, J.F.; Jacquet, A.; Giraud, G.; Legrand, I.; Sans, P.; Mainsant, P.; Verbeke, W. Quality of Food Products and Consumer Attitudes in France. In Energy and Protein Metabolism and Nutrition; Wageningen Academic Publishers: Wageningen, The Netherlands, 2013; pp. 67–82. [Google Scholar]
- Esselink, H. Agricultural Production Chains in Slovenia; Market overview and analysis of agricultural and food production chains in Slovenia; Agricultural Department: Budapest, Hungary, 2009. [Google Scholar]
- Augère-Granier, M.-L. The EU Pig Meat Sector. 2020. Available online: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2020/652044/EPRS_BRI (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Wilkins, B. Fall in German Pork Consumption. Available online: https://ahdb.org.uk/news/fall-in-german-pork-consumption (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- McLay, A. Germany a Powerhouse on Pig Production. Available online: https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2011/12/07/Germany-a-powerhouse-on-pig-production (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Bittlmayer, H. Local Characteristics of Pig Production in Germany and Bavaria; Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry: München, Germany, 2019; pp. 1–2. [Google Scholar]
- General Description of Pork Chains in Germany; Internal report FP6-036245-2 Project Q-porkchains; Foodnetcenter: Bonn, Germany, 2007; p. 27.
- Debate on piglet castration. Available online: https://www.bmel.de/EN/topics/animals/animal-welfare/debate-piglet-castration.html (accessed on 29 December 2020).
- Bonneau, M. PIGCAS: Attitudes, practises and state of the art regarding piglet castration in Europe. In Proceedings of Workshop “Castration of piglets”; European Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2010. [Google Scholar]
- Borrisser-Pairó, F.; Kallas, Z.; Panella-Riera, N.; Avena, M.; Ibáñez, M.; Olivares, A.; Gil Roig, J.M.; Oliver, M.A. Towards entire male pigs in Europe: A perspective from the Spanish supply chain. Res. Veter. Sci. 2016, 107, 20–29. [Google Scholar]
|SC||With anesthesia and/or analgesia||Reduced pain during SC||Extra costs (need authorized drugs and trained personnel)|
Maybe conflict with animal welfare
|IC||Injecting vaccines||Better economic efficiency from prolonged fattening||Extra costs (need authorized drugs and safety training, detection at the slaughter line)|
Uncertain acceptability of consumers (and criticisms from chain actors)
|EM||Slaughter before puberty||Reduced risk of boar taint|
No conflict with animal welfare
|No guarantee of total elimination of boar taint|
Low economic efficiency
|Selection method |
(e.g., human nose detection in the slaughterhouses)
|No conflict with animal welfare|
Better economic efficiency from prolonged fattening
|No guarantee of total elimination of boar taint|
Extra costs (detection at the slaughter line)
Lower meat quality
|Norway||2002||Ban on surgical pig castration without analgesia and anesthesia|
|Netherlands||2009||A collective agreement of the Dutch food retail organizations|
|Switzerland||2010||Ban on surgical castration without anesthesia|
|Denmark||2009 2011||Ban on surgical castration without analgesia 1 (industry requirement since 2009, legal requirement since 2011)|
|Sweden||2016||Ban on surgical pig castration without analgesia and anesthesia|
|Ban on surgical castration without anesthesia|
Ban on surgical castration without anesthesia
|Country||Boars (%)||Immunocastrates (%)||Barrows (%)||Pig Population (×1000)|
|NL||1||Farmer||The owner of a pig farm (size of 5000 fattening pigs and 600 sows)||NL-FM||“Our main goal is to avoid castration in a market-driven way. It means that almost all Dutch retailers ask for non-castrates.”|
“We work together in the pork chain, including pig farmer association, slaughterhouses, the Dutch ministry, and NGOs.”
|2||Slaughterhouse/processor||VION, the largest slaughterhouse in the Netherlands||NL-SH||“When you take a meta-view over it [the castration issue]. The impact is very limited. But the point is that every change creates resistance. To adapt your systems to non-castration needs some creativity.”|
“When you have one percent of the tainted boars, you have to process them in other way. We still can make meat products out of tainted carcasses. It’s possible, people know how to do it.”
“I think raising entire male is the ultimate goal. It has all the benefits. For the other methods, you stay on castration and you have pain relief.”
|3||Retailer||The largest retailer in the Netherlands||NL-RT||“We were from the very beginning involved in introducing the “beter leven”. And we work closely with VION [a slaughterhouse]. Vion is contracting the farmers. We set criteria together and it is still developing”.|
“Most Dutch retailers agree on the criteria. The price increased a bit, but it is still a level playing field.”
|4||Breeder||Providing innovative genetic solutions for cost-efficient pig production.||NL-BR||“We, as breeders, always need to think from a future perspective. We have to think the future needs of our customers.” |
“Why should a farmer buy immunocastration if he does not get more payment for the extra investment? Though you do see people buying immunovaccines, but those are integrated producers.”
|5||Scientist||An experienced researcher||NL-ST||“The biggest challenge for the Dutch pork industry is the issue development in Germany. And at the same time, what makes it more complex is that in Denmark and in the Netherlands, each uses their own methods for pain relief. Denmark uses local anesthesia and in the Netherlands inhalation is carbon dioxide.”|
|6||Animal protection||Dierenbescherming (the largest animal protection organisation in the Netherlands)||NL-NGO||“I think [raising entire males] is good for the image of the pig industry and pig farming. For farmers, they don’t have to castrate and enjoy a feed conversion benefit. It’s also economically interesting for them. ”|
“Why should we use immunocastration if we have a better solution [i.e., entire males]?”
“We (different interest groups) don’t always agree with each other. We look for common ground and work on subjects.”
|7||Media||Pig progress||NL-ME||“I think what humans have been doing is trying to modify the pigs, to squeeze them into our production systems. And I think what needs to happen is the other way around: how can we find production systems that match the needs of the pigs and adjust our systems to how pigs are.”|
“I’m trying to be as balanced as possible. As a writer, I wouldn’t write anything enormously radical. I also I need to find a balanced way to express myself. So I may have these ideas but don’t necessarily always write about them.”
|F||8||Farmer||INAPORC (a farmer association)||F-FM||“The quantity of the fat in meat from entire males or immunocastrates is not nearly the same compared to castrates. That’s why we farmers would like to have access to the anesthesia [to castrate pigs]. So the priority is to find a solution about anesthesia.”|
“When we are in discussion with the NGO, we say it’s not a problem for the farmers [to change the method]. If tomorrow we are asked to produce entire male, it’s not a problem to change. We’re happy, if we earn the same money.”
“There are a lot of slaughterhouse that never want entire males. Because if they use entire males to produce the dry ham and dry sausages, the quality is a problem”
“The only solution to improve the current situation is to find a machine to make the detection to be 100% accurate.”
|9||Cooperative||Cooperl||F-CO||“When we compare the three methods, uh, I would say entire male production have the most benefits.”|
“In Cooperl, we make decisions easily because we have a completepork chain.”
“In our cooperative, we have a protocol to share the cost and benefits [among chain actors]. We share the cost and benefits added by raising and selling entire males. Everybody earns more money. It’s a win-win.”
|10||Pharmaceutical||Zoetis||F-PH||“We have some improvac customers, most of them started six or seven years ago and they’re still using it. But all of them, they’re selling their products directly, short chains.”|
“A good thing is if Germany stops castration, it is going to be easier to make things change [in Europe]. If Germany accept immunocastration, then Netherlands could also accept. So at the end, Germany could be a turning point.”
“If there is a competitor, we would like to have a co-marketing with the competitor, at least would be more powerful. So I think it may be better for us to have a competitor in the market.”
|11||Veterinarian||Veterinarian||F-VET||“We agree with the position paper proposed by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE)1 that entire male is better than immunocastration and immunocastration is and better than castration with anesthesia/analgesia.”|
|12||Scientist—Slaughterhouse||IFIP (the French Pork and Pig Institute)||F-ST 1||“The biggest challenge for the issue is to detect the boar taint. That is, the knowledge part. And also to provide facilities to detect. As long as we can easily detect the boar taint, we can easily improve the farming techniques to reduce it.”|
|13||Scientist—General||IFIP (the French Pork and Pig Institute)||F-ST 2||“We will never finish with the social challenge. If we solve this question, we will have other social challenge, so we’ll always have. So I think we should keep going on solving problems with technology. And hopefully, the social challenge will be achieved.”|
“The [carcasses from the] north [of France] is less fat, less boar taint. They are interested by the entire male because it will get better economic growth. The South is more for quality, fat, high quality products. So they would prefer a castrated pigs. Each one has its own existing markets. France has all methods, it is diverse.”
|14||Scientist-Animal welfare||IFIP (the French Pork and Pig Institute)||F-ST 3||“The problem for this issue is the industry (referring to slaughterhouses and processors) to have a reliable method, to be sure that all the boar tainted male are selected.”|
“Even though you have tainted detection in the Netherlands, in Germany and in Cooperl in France using human nose detection, but slaughterhouses in France don’t trust that. “
|15||Animal activist group||WELFARM||F-NGO||“We tried to convince MPs to propose. At the same time, we also put pressure on the governments. So [our task is] to put pressure on the government, to raise people awareness, to raise a signature, to have a petition.”|
“I think we can deal with this issue. If everybody decided to deal with this issue, we can.”
|D||16||Farmer||Farmer Association||D-FM||“We need all legal methods [to exist], because each farmer has different needs and circumstances.”|
“A big challenge is that all legal methods will also be equally accepted so that farmers can market their animals for a fair price, regardless of which method they have chosen.”
“The additional cost and work that will be there for the pig fattener is something that bothers the farmers. There is a shift in work from the producer to the fattener.”
|17||Slaughterhouse/processor 1||VION||D-SH 1||“We don’t sell whole pigs to one customer anymore. Some parts go to Japan, some go to Italy, they have different positions. That makes it complicated and also the selection in the slaughterhouses, they have to be separated, which smaller companies can’t fulfill.”|
“You need to look at the practical side. Think about all these processes at a smaller slaughter company, they can’t handle that huge selection problem. It costs a lot of money in logistics.”
“The cooperation among stakeholders is often not satisfying. We need a social concern in this debate, but most don’t understand that yet. And the politics says we take a leading role in Germany, which is totally not true. Politics has failed.”
|18||Slaughterhouse/processor 2||Tonnies||D-SH 2||“Our suppliers (farmers) can use all allowed methods, because we have different requirements of the customers.”|
“We market the pigs in the form of many different cuts. With different customer requirements, this complicates internal logistics enormously. A comprehensive commitment to all methods from all industries would be beneficial for us.”
|19||Retailer 1||Anonymous—North Germany||D-RT 1||“There are big differences between countries and cities or between regions, sometimes as if they are islands. Even with ministries and federal ministries, they say something but the state ministries say different.”|
“With our company, our market sometimes has a completely different assortment in different regions. We are structured in seven regions. The retailers have committed themselves to their region and have said whether they want it.”
“We work together with slaughterhouses. We have a common database and also see which farmers are currently up to the requirements.” “We have to be more prepared for our farmers to be able to implement methods. Otherwise we are losing the farmers, then we could not sell any more meat. That’s why we’re looking, which alternatives can we give with a clear indication? And what the farmers are able to do? So that they can implement it as quickly as possible and economically as well.”
|20||Retailer 2||Anonymous—South West Germany||D-RT 2||“In the past five years, we made some changes, partly the separation of the flow of goods for certain bulk buyers, or the additional work with the different methods, such as test production. With the coordination of the different methods.”|
“From an economic point of view, we actually have no benefits from any methods for our company. Economically this does not really bring us anything, but it is an improvement in animal welfare. The main goal of the company is to make progress and to have a direct influence where we want to achieve improvements in animal welfare and, of course, to avoid surgical interventions on animals.”
|21||Quality assurance system||Qualitäts Sicherung||D-QS||“The biggest challenge is that a national solo effort will place a heavy burden on German sows and piglet breeders because national solo efforts do not solve the problem. Germany imports a lot of piglets and pig meat but also of exports pigs to neighboring European countries, so it is the right way to regulate something at EU level and to find a regulation with the neighboring countries at a legal level so that the procedures are implemented in the same way in different countries from where pig meat or piglets and slaughter pigs are important, in order to create a fair level playing field.”|
|22||State commissioner||Baden-Württemberg Commissioner||D-GV||“This whole discussion is no longer based on facts. The fronts are just totally hardened and somehow one shoots at the other. These discussions go round and round.”|
|23||Animal protection 1||DTB||D-NGO 1||“The biggest challenges are actually the communication between the different industries and the acceptance of the different alternative methods that are available.”|
|24||Animal protection 2||PROVIEH||D-NGO 2||“The biggest challenges in general are that not all alternatives are animal welfare friendly.”|
“A few years ago, we favored only entire males, because there is no need for surgery. But of course, years of practice and experience have shown that there are some farms that can do this very well, but it is not yet suitable for mass production. In addition, the boar meat is not universally applicable in the processing. The logical choice is therefore the immunocastration because it offers many advantages, for example the animals are calmer, every farm can implement it without the large management expenditure of the boar fattening. We reject the surgical castration generally because we have alternatives with which can be done without.”
|SI||25||Cooperative 1||Ihan||SI-CO 1||“Now we don’t think a lot about immunocastration. From our knowledge, immunocastration is costly in the production.”|
“We have some kind of problems with junk market from other countries (referring to imports). They have competitive advantages on low prices. Since the last 3–5 years, Slovenian consumers wants to have Slovenian original meat. Consumers are willing to pay 5–10% more. That’s our focus now, to be original.”
“Castration with anesthesia is not so expensive for us. We have experts for the surgery [in the company]. The cost is not a big difference between a few years ago and now.”
|26||Cooperative 2||Panvita||SI-CO 2||“We are following things and keep ourselves updated with the information to know how to react if and when there is really a ban. If there is ban, we will just consider split fattening, meaning females will be fattened to higher weight, and the entire males to lower weights. But of course it is a challenge, because it needs some changes in the organization of work and so on. We will adapt.”|
|27||Breeder||Jata Emona||SI-BR||“We simply just think about the castration issue. We are new in this business as well, so we are not producing pigs. So we are also a bit not informed. We are not on the same regarding this problem as other countries.”|
“We think it’s not possible to produce without any castration. Without any castration, it’s not possible to reduce the smell.”
|28||Government||Minister of agriculture||SI-GV||“We have no information about this castration problem from producers. We are now working on our strategy on pig meat markets. We intend to identify the needs for the pig meat sector. We make also SWOT analysis about the sector. In any of SWOT section, there is no words about castration.”|
|29||Scientist||KIS (Agricultural Institute of Slovenia)||SI-ST||“I think as a research institution, we should not recommend anything. Our role is to show the advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons. This is our role. It is up to them (referring to the production chains) to decide, what do they need, what do they produce, how to use.”|
“There was a time we published our result about different methods in a national-level journal. We were attacked by smaller farmers as if we were promoting IC or changes in the sector. Then after that, we decided not to go into the large public with the information anymore.”
|Outside selected countries||30||NGO||Anonymous||NGO||“It’s very difficult to find a common ground. Stakeholders have very different positions, and to be completely honest with you, some of these positions are non-scientific. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to have an informative discussion. Even in the face of new evidence, even if you show that the solutions are there, some stakeholders do not budge, for cultural and economic reasons.”|
|31||EU Commission||Kai-Uwe Sprenger||GV||“The role for the European Commission is to ensure that the internal market functions. If, this is not yet the case, if member states establish national rules that disturb the internal market, then the European Commission comes into play, into the game. The member states can accept each other’s different rules, or we establish harmonized rules. How these harmonized rules look like, this is difficult to say right now. It depends on what kind of compromise member states can agree.”|
|32||The Spanish Association of Pig Livestock Producers||Miguel Angel Higuera||General||“We (Spanish pork industry) have not pressures from our consumer regarding piglet castration because the majority our production is entire males (without castration). So what are we focused? We focus on producing the best quality meat. Also we can, an increase in the same time in the animal welfare by raising entire males. For that reason, as we are one of the biggest producers of EM, we have not any problem with consumers regarding piglet castration”|
|33||Feed provider||Taintstop||Feed||“For Taintstop, the problem is that we have got a lot of research work and all of validation trials in not only lab circumstances, also the practice farms. But we find it difficult to find customers. Because the farmers will pay for it by themselves if he has an advantage for selling his pigs. If he doesn’t get the money back, he doesn’t buy it. It’s the system around the food chain that has to make choices.”|
|34||European Veterinary Organisation||Federation of Veterinarians of Europe||VET||“We gave a position paper earlier. The aim is to go to entire male production. And if this is not possible, then the second method we support is immunocastration. And if that is not possible, then Analgesia and Anesthesia Around castration.”|
“As a veterinary association, we focus on trying to explain the science behind. While a couple of years ago, scientific arguments were important in this whole debate, I have the feeling that now it has become an immense political issue and scientific arguments are less important.”
“I think we have to see this issue in a wider context, you cannot look only at pig castration. There’s so many other things going on in the pig sector, it’s better to take a holistic view and think, how are we farming pigs today? And is this the way we want to farm pigs in the future, or do we need to make changes to that?”
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Share and Cite
Lin-Schilstra, L.; Ingenbleek, P.T.M. Examining Alternatives to Painful Piglet Castration Within the Contexts of Markets and Stakeholders: A Comparison of Four EU Countries. Animals 2021, 11, 486. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020486
Lin-Schilstra L, Ingenbleek PTM. Examining Alternatives to Painful Piglet Castration Within the Contexts of Markets and Stakeholders: A Comparison of Four EU Countries. Animals. 2021; 11(2):486. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020486Chicago/Turabian Style
Lin-Schilstra, Li, and Paul T.M. Ingenbleek. 2021. "Examining Alternatives to Painful Piglet Castration Within the Contexts of Markets and Stakeholders: A Comparison of Four EU Countries" Animals 11, no. 2: 486. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020486