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J Anim Sci. 2014 Jan;92(1):359-68. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-6863. Epub 2013 Nov 15.

Effects of immunological castration (Improvest) on changes in dressing percentage and carcass characteristics of finishing pigs.

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


The objective was to determine which tissue components contributed to the reduction in carcass yield of immunologically castrated (IC) barrows when compared to physically castrated (PC) barrows. The carcass yield of an IC barrow is less than the carcass yield of a PC barrow. This has historically been attributed to the presence of testicles, but the testes have only accounted for approximately 0.25% of live weight. This experiment included PC barrows, intact males, IC barrows, IC barrows fed ractopamine hydrochloride, and gilts. When the pigs reached 15 wk old, they were weighed, assigned to treatments (intact male or IC barrow), and penned in groups of 4 pigs per pen. Pigs designated for immunological castration were given injections at approximately 16 wk old and approximately 20 wk old. Pigs were eligible for harvest 33 d after the second injection when the average weight of the pen reached 130 kg. Immunologically castrated barrows lost on average 0.7% units more live weight during transport and lairage than PC barrows, intact males, or gilts. Physically castrated barrows had a 1.43% unit advantage over IC barrows in carcass yield. The differences in yield can be attributed to differences in testicles, reproductive tract, intestinal mass, gut fill, and some visceral organs. Testicle weight accounted for a 0.28% unit reduction in carcass yield of IC barrows when compared to PC barrows. Additional reproductive tract weights accounted for differences of 0.10% units. Intestinal mass (empty large intestine, small intestine, and stomach) was 0.2% units heavier in IC barrows when compared to PC barrows. Livers from IC barrows were 200 g heavier (P < 0.05) and kidneys were 40 g heavier than the same organs in PC barrows. These 2 organs combined for a 0.15% unit difference in carcass yield between IC and PC barrows. Gut fill, testicles, reproductive tract, intestinal mass, and the liver and kidney accounted for 0.97 of 1.43% unit differences in carcass yield between IC and PC barrows. Immunologically castrated barrows had less marbling than PC barrows, but there were no other differences in pork quality parameters. Cutability differences were less than reported in previous experiments, but IC barrows still had a 1.0% unit advantage in lean cutting yield and a 0.7% unit advantage in carcass cutting yield when compared to PC barrows.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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