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Legislation and enforcement

The following information is the actual situation September 2011. For the latest update see the European Commission:


The Commission Directive 2001/93/EC stipulates that "if castration is practised after the seventh day of life, it shall only be performed under anaesthetic and additional prolonged analgesia by a veterinarian".

Directive 2001/93/EC also stipulates that castration of males must be done by means other than tearing tissues. However, the practicality of castrating piglets without tearing tissues is questionable (EFSA, 2004).

In 2009, article 13 of the Treaty on the Function of the European Union was provided which stated that, since animals are "sentient beings" the Union and the Member States shall pay full regard to their welfare requirements (EU, 2009). This article has increased the pressure on member states to find alternatives to the castration of male pigs.

The European Union has taken another step into the abolishing of piglet castration. An agreement has been reached to stop castrating without anaesthesia by January 1, 2012.

A total ban has been scheduled to be implemented by 2018 at the latest.

Article 6 in Directive 91/497 on fresh meat stipulates that only carcasses from entire male pigs with a dressed weight above 80 kg need to be tested for boar taint by an approved objective method. Carcasses duly tested and approved are subject to free trade.

In January 1993 the German government introduced a "de-facto" import prohibition on meat from male-pigs. The European Commission took Germany to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg where Germany in 1998 was condemned for not having respected EU-law.

In 1999 Danske Slagterier then initiated a court case claiming compensation from Germany. This court case was still pending in 2010.

The arrest of the testicular function by inducing an immune response against the hypothalamic hormone GnRH (immunological castration) has been legally accepted in the EU since 2009,as long as the product Improvac(r) is used.


Pigs, like other animals raised for food, are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act. There are no standards set by the US government regulating how animals are housed, fed, or treated on farms. Guidelines have been issued on how to perform castration of piglets.


Surgical castration without anaesthesia has been banned in Norway since 2002. Moreover, anaesthesia in Norway must be performed by a veterinarian. In Norway surgical castration will be completely prohibited from 2015.

UK and Ireland

Piglet castration is not carried out in UK and Ireland but castration has not been outlawed in UK and Ireland. Most pigs are slaughtered at live weights lower than 100 kg which reduces the risk of carcasses having boar taint. It can, however, not be guaranteed that all animals are free from it (EFSA, 2004).

Germany, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland

Since 1 January 2010 the surgical castration of piglets without anaesthetic pre-treatment has also been banned in Switzerland.

Pain medication (local anaesthesia like Fynadyne, Metacarm e.g.) is also obligatory as a transitional solution in Germany, Denmark and Austria.