Hendrix Genetics ia partnering with Recombinetics to develop genetics that give birth to piglets that will not need castration.
And Dr. Jim Squires of the University of Guelph is working with similar technology to eliminate boar taint, which is the main meat-industry objection to buying boars that have not been castrated.
Recombinetics is the same company that has partnered with Semex Alliance to develop cattle genetics for calves that will not grow horns.
The project with Hypor has support from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Open Philanthropy Project.
If piglets can be born without requiring castration, it will address animal welfare concerns, avoid the setbacks pigs experience when they are castrated and solve the “boar taint” challenge when intact males are raised to market weight.
The genetics keeps male pigs in a pre-pubertal state, the company said.
The alliance will also investigate best practices for recovery of puberty and fertility, without compromising traits such as feed efficiency and meat quality.
Being able to make selections for sires when they reach market weight is better that making choices when they are still piglets.
Squires approach would not require this reversal process.
Both employ gene-editing technology, but while the Hypor project targets maturity, Squires’ approach is to knock out the genetics responsible for boar taint.
He has also taken another approach. He has identified gene markers and trials are underway to determine whether they can be successfully used in breeding programs to address the boar-taint issue.