Immunological castration is a solution to physical castration that is getting more attention internationally in animal welfare circles, according to an article in a recent issue of the American Society of Animal Science’s “Taking Stock” newsletter (www.asas.org).

Numerous research trials have found immunological castration to have a wide range of potential benefits, including reduced stress. A recent study published in the Journal of Animal Science suggests immunologically castrated pigs are less susceptible to stress than physically castrated pigs. An indicator of this is the immunologically castrated pigs were much less vocal when workers entered their pens than pigs that were physically castrated.

Other behavioral differences around humans included immunologically castrated pigs showing a more inquisitive interest in their handlers.

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The amount of time spent on pig-human contact did not differ between immunologically castrated pigs and physically castrated pigs, but the behavior of immunologically castrated pigs was more intense.

During transport to market, no immunologically castrated pigs were found “dead or down.” Among the physically castrated pigs, the dead and down rate was about 1%. Other studies have reported similar dead and down rates, but a large-scale field study with proper replication is needed to determine whether immunological castration reduces mortality and injury rates during commercial transport.

The research article is titled “Behavior and handling of physically and immunologically castrated market pigs on farm and going to market.” It can be read in full at journalofanimalscience.org.

To learn more about immunological castration, read “The benefits of immunological castration.”

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