After Animal Rights released undercover footage from inside Westfort slaughterhouse last year, Eyes on Animals together with Dr. Kees Scheepens met with the managers of the plant and those responsible for quality to encourage them to take steps to reduce animal stress. They too were eager to make improvements.
At the time, we walked through the slaughterhouse together, from the unloading of the trucks to the stunning and killing, and analyzed how each phase could be altered in order to better protect the pigs’ welfare.
Today, 6 months later, we returned to see which improvements and investments they had put in place and if they were effective. We were positively surprised to see that they had taken almost all the steps we had suggested plus some additional ones they had come up with on their own. The entire plant was much quieter and the animals were moved calmly. There are too many improvements to list, but the one that made the biggest impact is the training of the personnel. Each and every person working with the live animals was given an individual training, both in theory and practice, on how they should carry out their specific task. One of their new animal welfare officers (who is also a volunteer for Eyes on Animals when we work in Ghana) evaluated each one afterwards to be sure they were skilled for the position. Many other changes were put into place, from reducing noise level (no more rattlers or paddles allowed, they use just their hands) to changing the design of the raceway.
Slaughter can never be stress and pain-free, but the handling of the pigs at this plant is now calm and much better than at most other plants that Eyes on Animals has been to, particularly compared to other pig slaughterhouses of the same size. The managers and trained personnel deserve a compliment for having taken this seriously.