On March 9th 2016 we were at the livestock market in Leeuwarden. Among other things we wanted to see what the condition was of the alleged cattle, how they are housed on the cattle market and how the loading and unloading takes place. The following findings relate to the situation at the start of the market day, when about 15% of the animals were present. We were not able to be on the market when it was busier due to a dispute between us and the board of the cattle market. This dispute has now been resolved. The housing-conditions for the cattle was well in order. More group pens have been added to replace the need of tie-on railings. We are very happy with this: the animals can lie down at will, stand and move more easily now. Also, each group pen has a net with straw in it for the cattle to eat and water is available. The average condition of the animals was better that during our last visit in October.
Nevertheless, we did see some cows that, in our opinion, did not belong on a market. These animals seemed too weak or too sick to cope with the additional stress of transport and the long wait at the cattle market. As a result, they run the risk of weakening in such a way that they are no longer suitable for transport. In our view, cattle-traders and farmers should not have brought these animals to the market. To ensure that traders and transporters do not bring such animals anymore via a market, the Leeuwarden cattle market board has started sending warning letters. When traders and transporters bring cattle unsuitable for transport (category 1) or animals whose condition deteriorated on the market (category 2) they will receive a warning letter. If a trader or transporter invoked a category 1 cow three times, access to the market is prohibited. After once or twice they will be summoned for a talk. The NVWA can view the formatted warning letters. In this way the problem is tackled at the core, namely with the farmers/traders/transporters that muddle along with weak animals for too long. Also, the cattle market board sent a letter to the cattle traders about the incorrect tethering of cattle.
The board members of the cattle market is set to work with our recommendations and is benevolent to improve the cattle market. Today three warning letters were prepared by the veterinarian. Two of these three letters were for cows that we had also noted down as ‘not fit for transport to a market’ earlier that day. It is positive that the board of the Leeuwarden cattle market has taken action in response to the problematic conditions of some cows that are brought in. The unloading of the cattle went relatively quietly. We did see one truck without lateral protection on the ramp. This is a requirement by law. This is something we will ask the NVWA and the cattle market to enforce.