Nutritional Influences on Skatole Formation and Skatole Metabolism in the Pig


Skatole is a tryptophan (TRP) metabolite with fecal odor. Together with the testicular steroid androstenone it is regarded as a main determinant of boar taint, even if elevated concentrations of skatole occur occasionally in gilts and barrows. Skatole concentrations in adipose tissue result from a complex process, which includes the availability of TRP and the presence of specialized bacteria in the gut in need of TRP for energy production, as well as absorption, transport and accumulation of skatole in adipose tissue. Several steps of this process are influenced by diet and specific feed compounds. In the present paper the current knowledge about physiological mechanisms of skatole dynamics is summarized. Additionally mechanisms are discussed, by which effective feeding strategies and feed additives exert their influence in the prevention of high skatole concentrations in adipose pig tissue. It was concluded that the most effective measures are those which influence several steps of skatole formation. Despite the numerous studies carried out in the field of skatole physiology, interesting aspects still need clarification, such as the effect of adipose tissue turnover. Reliable control of skatole accretion in fat of boars is one of the main prerequisites for pork production with entire males.