Effects of early vaccination with a gonadotropin releasing factor analog-diphtheria toxoid conjugate on boar taint and growth performance of male pigs
The aim of this study was to evaluate safety (in terms of detecting possible adverse clinical effects attributable to vaccination), efficacy, and effects on growth performance of a gonadotropin releasing factor analog-diphtheria toxoid conjugate (commercially distributed as Improvac; Zoetis, Zaventem, Belgium) in male pigs raised in a commercial Greek farm. A total of 1,230 male pigs was enrolled in 16 weekly batches and allocated to 3 groups: barrows (castrated on the next day after birth [study Day 0]), pigs vaccinated with the above-mentioned product, and intact boars. Vaccinated pigs were injected subcutaneously with 2 mL of the anti-gonadotropin releasing factor (GnRF) vaccine at 9 to 11 wk of age (60-78 d) and 15 to 17 wk of age (102-120 d) and slaughtered at 22 to 25 wk of age (152-176 d). No clinical abnormalities or adverse events attributable to vaccination occurred. Mean BW of vaccinated pigs was 6% greater compared with barrows at slaughter (P < 0.0001). The vaccinated pigs had greater ADG than barrows from castration to slaughter (8%). In detail, a lower ADG from first to second vaccination (-12%; P < 0.0001) and a 27% greater ADG from second vaccination to slaughter (P < 0.0001) were observed. The ADG of vaccinated pigs and intact boars was not significantly different throughout the study, except from first to second vaccination (boars greater; P = 0.0059) and second vaccination to slaughter (vaccinates greater; P = 0.0390). Feed conversion ratio of barrows was 11 and 8% greater compared with vaccinated pigs (P = 0.0005) and boars (P = 0.0062) from first to second vaccination but was 23 to 26% lower compared with vaccinated pigs (P < 0.0001) and intact boars (P < 0.0001) from first vaccination to slaughter and 7 to 9.5% lower from the second vaccination to slaughter (P = 0.0029 and P = 0.0003 for vaccinates and intact boars, respectively). At slaughter, the belly fat androstenone concentration of all vaccinated pigs and 64% of intact boars was below 200 ng/g. Belly fat skatole concentration was below 20 ng/g in samples from all groups. In conclusion, vaccination against GnRF using the GnRF analog-diphtheria toxoid conjugate tested did not induce adverse clinical effects, proved effective, and compared with physical castration, resulted in greater BW at slaughter and improved ADG and feed conversion ratio from first vaccination to slaughter.