Zoetis' Improvest Put To Test At Indiana Pig Facility

A new castration drug is tested on pigs.

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An Indiana veterinarian has turned over a small portion of his 120-acre corn and soybean farm to Zoetis Inc. for a demonstration of the company's Improvest castration drug.

Improvest (gonadotropin releasing factor analog—diphtheria toxoid conjugate) is designed to immunologically castrate pigs, leaving them intact and reducing so-called "boar taint" in cooked pork.

 Keri Weppler
Keri Weppler of Zoetis Inc. administers the first dose of Improvest to 10-week-old male piglets at a demonstration farm in Greensburg, Ind.

Improvest

"We've long known about the inherent performance advantages of raising intact males," said farm owner Larry Rueff, DVM, who co-manages Swine Veterinary Services in Greensburg, Ind. "[Immunological castration] technology now allows producers to take advantage of these benefits while still ensuring the same high level of pork quality and great taste consumers have come to expect."

An existing livestock barn was opened in April to demonstrate Improvest and pork production. Visitors who tour the 500-head nursery-to-finishing facility can learn about pre-weaning mortality, feed efficiency, split sex feeding, nutritional requirements and the economic benefits of Improvest, Zoetis reported.

Improvest is touted for its effect on "boar taint," an unpleasant aroma or taste in cooked pork harvested from some mature male pigs.

The injectable drug decreases off-odor compounds as well as sexual and aggressive behaviors, Zoetis stated. Following the second administration of Improvest, androstenone and skatole levels drop and remain suppressed for at least eight weeks, the company added.

"Improvest offers pork producers and meat packers a new and more sustainable way to manage the issue of off-odors in pork," said Gloria Basse, vice president of Zoetis" U.S. pork business unit. "Because this is so revolutionary, Zoetis is committed to educating people across the entire pork chain to better understand the value that can be gained."

Improvest is used in dozens of nations worldwide and was introduced into the United States in 2011. The veterinary prescription drug uses a pig's immune system to temporarily provide the same effect as physical castration but much later in a male pig's life, Zoetis noted.

Farm tours are available by contacting a representative of Florham Park, N.J.-based Zoetis.

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