Animal Science

Research Article

Influence of chicory roots (Cichorium intybus L) on boar taint in entire male and female pigs

L. L. Hansena1 c1, H. Mejera2, S. M. Thamsborga2, D. V. Byrnea3, A. Roepstorffa2, A. H. Karlssona1, J. Hansen-Møllera4, M. T. Jensena1 and M. Tuomolaa5

a1 Department of Food Science, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS), Research Centre Foulum, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

a2 Danish Centre for Experimental Parasitology, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Dyrlaegevej 100, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

a3 Department of Food Science, Sensory Science, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Rolighedsvej 30, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark

a4 Department of Animal Health, Welfare and Nutrition, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS), Research Centre Foulum, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark

a5 University of Turku, Biotechnology, BioCity 6A FIN-20520, Turku, Finland


Boar taint is an off-flavour of pork caused primarily by a microbial breakdown product, skatole and a testicular steroid, androstenone. As skatole is produced in the large intestine from tryptophan, it is possible that some ‘bioactive’ ingredients could modify protein fermentation and, in the process, diminish boar taint. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of inulin-rich chicory roots (Cichorium intybus L.) on boar taint. In the first of three trials individually penned, entire males and females were given an organic concentrate in which 0·25 of the daily energy intake was replaced with crude chicory roots for 9 or 4 weeks prior to slaughter. In the second trial, entire male pigs were given diets that included, either crude chicory roots, dried chicory roots, or inulin (extracted from chicory roots) for 6 weeks pre-slaughter. In the third trial, intact male pigs were given the dried chicory diet for either 2 or 1 week before slaughter. In all trials the chicory diets were offered on a scale at 0·95 of the Danish recommendation for energy intake, and pig performance was compared with a control group given the organic concentrate at 0·95 of recommended energy intake plus silage ad libitum. In trial 1 an additional control group was offered the organic concentrate at a daily energy intake level of 1·0 of Danish recommendations. The pigs in trials 1, 2, and 3 were slaughtered at an average live weight of 118, 124, and 110 kg, respectively, in order to ensure that they had achieved sexual maturity. Overall, skatole concentrations in blood plasma and backfat at slaughter were reduced to almost zero levels by including crude or dried chicory or inulin in the diet. This occurred irrespective of sex and length of feeding period (1 to 9 weeks). In trial 3 a significant effect on blood plasma concentration was observed after 3 days of feeding a diet containing dried chicory. The only significant reduction in plasma androstenone levels was detected in pigs given the crude chicory for a 9 week duration in trial 1. The production and proportion of lean was generally not affected by the addition of either form of chicory to the diets in trials 1 and 2. Therefore, dried chicory may be the most suitable form for commercial use because it: had no initial adverse effects on food intake, consistently reduced skatole without reducing performance, was easy to handle throughout the entire year and is relatively inexpensive.

(Received July 22 2005)

(Accepted January 26 2006)

Key words

  • androstenone;
  • boar taint;
  • chicory;
  • inulin;
  • skatole


c1 E-mail: