This afternoon, we visited slaughterhouse Van Rooi in Helmond. Upon arrival we saw a truck parked in full sun on Van Rooi’s property loaded with pigs. Since this truck remained still and did not seem to be preparing to unload, we called Van Rooi. Van Rooi informed us that trucks are not allowed to park there. The driver was spoken to immediately and soon after, he was able to unload.
We were permitted to inspect the pig trucks waiting in the covered parking lot. The temperature undercover was some 3 degrees cooler than outside it (30°C instead of 33°C). This was thanks to the shade, along with misting systems and a natural airflow. The humidity was around 30% (the same as outside the parking lot). All in all, it was much more comfortable under the shade of the parking lot compared to outside of it. However, we still saw pigs panting and breathing very heavily and fast. We advised to place big mobile fans, to provide more wind flow through the trucks. This helps the pigs to cool down.
The pigs had to wait approximately one hour in the truck; sometimes longer, sometimes a bit shorter, but either was too long. We think that slaughterhouses should never be allowed to use a parking lot as an alternative (or extension) to a lairage. In a truck, it is impossible to control the climate and conditions in the same way as a waiting pen. On top of that, pigs do not get water when they are in a truck. We advised to take stricter measures against heat stress, such as having less pigs arriving at the slaughterhouse per hour, better planning and/or extending the waiting pen. Furthermore, we saw quite a lot of trucks with perforated side walls and trucks that were fully closed (forced-ventilated). We informed Van Rooi that we are not in favor of these types of trucks, as from our measurements and observations pigs often suffer more from heat stress. We also believe that the loading density used by the sector during the hot weather (1 pig less per compartment) is insufficient. Pigs are loaded likes sardines in a can; they cannot lie down without pressing against each other and therefore unable to release their body heat adequately.
We perceive the way in which we were welcomed today by Van Rooi as very positive. Time was made for us immediately and we were allowed to have a look at everything. We want to thank Van Rooi for this transparency and hope that they will put our advice into practice.