The effect of immunization against GnRF on nutrient requirements of male pigs: A review

F. R. Dunshea, J. R.D. Allison, M. Bertram, D. D. Boler, L. Brossard, R. Campbell, J. P. Crane, D. P. Hennessy, L. Huber, C. De Lange, N. Ferguson, P. Matzat, F. Mckeith, P. J.U. Moraes, B. P. Mullan, J. Noblet, N. Quiniou, M. Tokach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In most countries, male pigs are physically castrated soon after birth to reduce the risk of boar taint and to avoid behaviours such as fighting and mounting. However, entire male pigs are more feed efficient and deposit less fat than barrows. In addition, many animal welfare organizations are lobbying for a cessation of castration, with a likelihood that this could lead to inferior pork unless an alternative method is used to control boar taint. An alternative to physical castration is immunization against gonadotrophin releasing factor (GnRF) which allows producers to capitalize on the superior feed efficiency and carcass characteristics of boars without the risk of boar taint. From a physiological perspective, immunized pigs are entire males until shortly after the second dose, typically given 4 to 6 weeks before slaughter. Following full immunization, there is a temporary suppression of testicular function and a hormonal status that resembles that of a barrow. Nutrient requirements will be different in these two phases, before and after full immunization. Given that there have been few published studies comparing the lysine requirements of entire males and barrows in contemporary genotypes, it is useful to use gilt requirements as a benchmark. A series of meta-analyses comparing anti-GnRF immunized boars and physical castrates and use of nutritional models suggest that the lysine requirement of entire males before the second immunization is 5% higher than for gilts, from 25 to 50 kg BW, and by 8% from 50 to 95 kg. Given that the penalty in growth performance for having inadequate dietary lysine is greater in males than in gilts or barrows, it is important to ensure that lysine requirements are met to obtain the maximum benefits of entire male production during this phase. After the second immunization, the lysine requirement of immunized males decreases and may become more like that of barrows. In addition, a consistent effect of full immunization is a marked increase in voluntary feed intake from about 10 days after the second dose. Putting these together, the estimated lysine requirement, expressed in terms of diet composition, falls to 94% of the gilt level. Although general principles can be described now, further research is needed to fully define the lysine requirements of immunized boars. It is important that the temporal pattern of tissue deposition rates and feed intake be explored to be incorporated into models to predict nutrient requirements over the period of rapidly changing metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1769-1778
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • boars
  • finishing pigs
  • growth
  • immunological castration.
  • nutritional requirements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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