Nador: the innovative breeding program that reduces boar taint

Topigs Norsvin’s innovative pig breeding program improves pork quality by reducing boar taint by over 50%.

Both the market and society are demanding that castration of male pigs is banned and new government regulations are pending. This is a positive development from an animal welfare perspective, but might have possibly negative consequences for meat quality. 

The reason pigs are castrated is to reduce boar taint. This is a smell, arising during the cooking of pork produced by a small proportion of non-castrated pigs, a smell that consumers perceive as unpleasant. Nador –Topigs Norsvin’s advanced genetic-improvement breeding program – has resulted in a substantial reduction in boar taint. This helps pig farmers, slaughterhouses and retailers to provide the high-quality meat customers expect.

The company has reduced boar taint in its lines by 50% over ten years. Today, depending on the circumstances, only 2 to 3% of the meat pigs score too high on human nose scores.

Offspring from boars of the Nador boar program have even lower boar taint scores. Topigs Norsvin uses a combination of technologies to reduce boar taint, allowing precise selection of males that give offspring with an even lower risk (40% lower compared to the rest of the population) of boar taint. The company combines genomics-based selection statistical models for calculation of ‘breeding values’, with odor panels and odor analyses in advanced laboratories.

A key aim of the Nador breeding programme, which has been in operation for almost ten years and is under continuous improvement, is to eliminate boar taint completely.