Eyes on Animals inspected several Dutch poultry slaughterhouses during the recent heatwave in July. Although slaughterhouses took measures to reduce heat stress, including mobile fans in waiting areas and slaughtering earlier in the day, these were not sufficient to protect the birds from the extreme heat. At all the slaughterhouses we inspected, Eyes on Animals witnessed birds suffering from extreme heat stress, sometimes resulting in death.
Eyes on Animals believes the current heat protocol of the poultry industry is failing . Stricter and less non-committal measures are needed to protect the chickens. For example, prohibiting transport when temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius and an adjusted schedule allowing birds only to be caught, loaded and transported during the cooler hours of the day. This also means slaughterhouses will need to reduce their hours of slaughter during hot days.
Eyes on Animals is of the opinion slaughterhouses should make more use of modern technologies in their waiting areas, e.g. air-conditioning. There should be a policy regarding waiting times, the quality and quantity of fans and the setup for crates or containers in the waiting areas, so they are not tightly packed or stacked too high.
Eyes on Animals is in contact with the slaughterhouses we visited to advise on how they can improve their operations to reduce heat stress . We will also contact the branch-organizations to help improve the heat protocol they have developed.