Today Eyes on Animals was invited to visit Companjen, a bodyshop that renovates and trades livestock trucks.
The reason for our visit is because we are concerned that more and more livestock trucks in use by Dutch companies do not provide access to all the animals during transport. Either there are no doors on the sides, or the doors are far too small. Access to the animals is not only a requirement of the European animal-transport legislation (EC 1/2005) but vital to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals at all times. Companjen wanted to show us their trucks and hear our opinion of them.
The older truck models that they repair and trade in, had good access doors. Nice and big, easy for anyone (fat or skinny) to climb in and separate or provide first-aid to an animal in need. They also built a new Cattle-Cruiser out of aluminum, with access doors of 80cm x 60cm. This size was easy for us to get into, and likely adequate also for a larger truck driver or veterinarian. We feel that this should be the minimum, any smaller could make it difficult or even impossible.
They had also converted 13 of 21 boxed trailers (out of polyester and normally used for perishable items like fruit and vegetables) into livestock trucks. Unfortunately here the access doors were only 60 x 50cm; larger than what we saw at Berdex bodyshop, but not large enough to make access practical for the average-size adult man. They promised that they would look into the possibility of making the doors larger on the remaining 8 of the 21 boxed trailers.
We thank Companjen for their time to meet with us and for their positive and curious attitude into what is best for animals during transport. We were most impressed that in some of their newer trucks they had installed 2 water troughs per compartment, at either end. This helps ensure that all cattle in the group can reach the water. They also had nipples that were designed for calves to be able to use, better than the standard ones normally only adequte for pigs. They understood our concerns and we found common ground.
We will continue meeting with the Dutch and EU authorities to clean up this issue in the Netherlands (with livestock trucks having been approved that do not provide proper access) but find it much nicer when companies take the initiative themselves to fix the problem, avoiding measures needing to be taken by authorities later.