Today Eyes on Animals performed inspections of livestock trucks on a parking lot in Zuid-Holland. Drivers regularly wait here until they can unload the animals at the slaughterhouse nearby.
We arrived around noon when the outside temperature was about 26C. There was enough shade for the cattle trucks due to high trees at the edge of the parking lot. There were three cattle trucks with calves; two forced ventilated closed trucks (completely closed with mechanical fans) from the firms Van Drie and Van der Poll and one conventional truck (naturally ventilated) from the firm Van Rooyen. The waiting time was approximately 20-30 minutes.
The drivers of Van Rooyen and Van Drie kindly spoke to us. One of the things they talked to us about was that calf slaughterhouses are also paying increasingly more attention to heat stress, for example by creating shade for waiting trucks on the slaughterhouse site. Fortunately, we did not see any calves suffering from heat stress in Van Rooyen’s conventional cattle truck. The driver had raised the roof for extra natural ventilation.
However, Van Drie’s forced ventilated closed truck had no side doors and/or inspection hatches. The driver informed us that he could therefore not show us the calves. Eyes on Animals thinks this is a bad situation, especially since the truck was built in 2019. At that time Van Drie, the truck-design company and the official authorities should have known that access and visibility of the animals is crucial for animal welfare and required by law (Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005, Annex I, Chapter II, 1.1f) as well. The truck-design company has informed us that the rear of the truck can be opened as a door. However, this does not seem safe and practical for inspection and access purposes. Moreover, the calves in the front of the truck are still not clearly visible and/or accessible. We are therefore going to discuss this topic (trucks without side doors and/or inspection hatches) with the authorities.
The forced ventilated closed truck of Van der Poll, made by Pezzaioli, fortunately had side doors. However, the driver did not want to speak to us and thus we were unable to see the calves.
After about 2 PM no more cattle trucks were present on the parking lot. We assume that slaughterhouses started earlier with the arrival (and slaughter) of the animals today in order to avoid the heat of the afternoon, which of course would be a good signal.