EonA again visited the Van Rooi pig slaughterhouse in Helmond during the first tropical day of this year. We were welcomed to come in and were able to see their adjustments to counteract heat stress. Under their parking garage, the entire ground floor had been kept empty where the livestock trucks could wait. So there was shade everywhere. A large misting system was installed in the roof, which spread a lot of water over the livestock trucks. There was a difference of about 6 degrees C between under the roof and outside (29 degrees compared to 35 degrees). We looked into the parked pig trucks of both the traditional livestock trucks and the forced ventialtion closed ones. During our visit, we fortunately did not observe any pigs on board showing extreme signs of heat stress.
A lot of mist was also sprayed in the lairage: there were even puddles forming on the ground where the pigs could lie in. Van Rooi now places 5 fewer pigs per lairage pen than they did a few years ago. Now all pigs could lie down and as a consequence there was almost no fighting. However, there were a number of windows in the ceiling that let the sun rays through: the pigs underneath were significantly warmer than the rest of the animals. In the summer blinds should be placed on these windows so the suns’ rays cannot peer down on the animals beneath. But it is true that these windows can contribute positively to a good natural lighting in the winter.
Van Rooi has a better policy regarding “suspect animals” than we are used to seeing at Dutch pig slaughterhouses: pigs that do not seem to be healthy but still considered fit for transport do not have to wait until the end of the day inside the lairage before they are slaughtered, but only for a few hours as they slaughter them 4 times a day at different intervals. However, there was one pig in the suspect pen that in our opinion should not have been considered a suspect pig by the NVWA but should have been humanely killed immediately upon arrival.
Although we still saw a number of points for improvements we will discuss with them (namely to improve the unloading ramp when it is used to unload pigs form the top floor of the trucks, currently it is steep and still too slippery), we were still pleasantly surprised with the adjustments that van Rooi has made. We thank Van Rooi for his hospitality.