The pork production industry, boar taint and the means available to control boar taint are complex issues. This glossary is meant to aid in your understanding of these topics.

Abattoir An establishment that processes pigs for the production of meat for consumption and other products.

Androstenone A testicular steroid produced from the time of sexual maturity. It concentrates in the salivary gland and acts as a sex pheromone. Along with skatole, androstenone is one of the two main substances responsible for boar taint.

Barrow Physically castrated male pig.

Boar Uncastrated (i.e., intact) male pig.

Boar taint Offensive odor and taste evident in meat derived from some intact male pigs due to the accumulation in fat tissue of primarily two substances—androstenone (a testicular steroid) and skatole (a product of microbial tryptophan breakdown in the gut).

Castration (surgical; physical; immunological) The removal of the sex organs or reproductive hormones, making the animal incapable of reproduction. The correct use of the word can be used to describe both male and female animals, but it is commonly used to describe only males.

Genetically modified organism (GMO) An organism whose genetic material has been altered using the genetic engineering techniques generally known as recombinant DNA technology.

Gilt A female pig that has not yet had a litter of piglets.

GnRF (gonadotrophin releasing factor) A compound released by the hypothalamus (part of the brain) that stimulates a cascade of events that eventually control the function of the testes in male pigs. Also known as GnRH (gonadotrophin releasing hormone).

Immune system A complex system that is responsible for protecting the body against infections and certain foreign substances.

Immunocastration Activating the animals' immune system to suppress hormones and temporarily produce similar physiological and behavioral effects to physical castration, including control of boar taint

Immunological product A product that is capable of inducing an immune response.

Meat quality Generally, tenderness, juiciness and flavor are the most important characteristics that determine the acceptability of meat.

Physical castration (also see castration) Sterilization by removal of the testes in a male animal.

Skatole A derivative of tryptophan formed in the hind gut of the pig which contributes to the characteristic odor of feces. Along with androstenone, one of the main substances responsible for boar taint.

Sow A female pig, that has had at least one litter of piglets.

Vaccine A preparation containing an antigen and administered to an animal to establish immunity to the antigen in the vaccine.