Today, while outside temperatures reached an average of 30℃, we visited pig slaughterhouse Vion Boxtel to assess the pigs being transported, the implementation of the Dutch heat protocol and how the animals are protected during their wait before slaughter.
The heat protocol is activated when temperatures are expected to reach 27℃ or more for 4 consecutive days and will then be effective on the first day of this series. As well as when just 1 day of 30℃ or more is expected. Less animals than normal are allowed to be loaded. When temperatures reach 35℃ no animals at all are allowed to be transported. At Vion Boxtel a known problem is the lack of sufficient parking spaces in shaded areas. When outside temperatures and humidity are high, it’s even more difficult to cool down the trucks. Per our recommendation large industrial fans were purchased and placed alongside the front row of trucks. Pigs suffer from heat stress especially during the wait to be unloaded and because the truck is stationary there is no relief from moving air either. Some compartments are still overloaded with pigs while others contain fewer animals which is much better because the pigs now have some room to release their body heat to their surroundings.
A roof structure is being build to offer 9 trucks a shaded parking area, this will be completed in July according to Vion. The company had also covered the asphalt under the trucks with a lighter layer which reduces the conduction of heat.
While on the road we also witnessed trucks in well shaded areas waiting for their turn to unload. Since yesterday’s temperatures reached an average of 35℃, Vion had ceased delivery at 13.00 because it was simply too hot for the animals.
We will continue to work hard for an improved heat protocol and adjusted work schedule at slaughterhouses so slaughter can take place at night and therefor the animals don’t have to wait during the hottest hours of the day. Larger waiting areas need to be built as well so all animals can be unloaded immediately instead of waiting on stationary trucks for longer periods of time.