Today a team dropped by, unannounced, to the Leeuwarden cattle market. In the past we had caught farmers and cattle traders bringing dairy cows in unacceptably-poor conditions and trying to sell them here. Together with the market board and Dutch authorities, Eyes on Animals is trying to clean up this problem. Farmers and transporters face having such cows euthanized on the market and recently are also receiving a letter of warning from the market board of directors. After three letters, they will be banned from using the market.
We dropped by today to check on the condition of the culled-dairy cows. The average condition of the cows today was much better than we had seen in the past. Nevertheless, one cow was present that made a very bad health impression. Her head was hanging low, her back legs were weak, her tail sticking straight out and she was incredibly thirsty. We were not allowed to take a photo of her but here is an image taken from a textbook that looks similar to her body posture. The veterinarian at the market decided she was a category 2 animal- which meant she would not be humanely put out of her suffering at the market but accepted for sale and further transported but only to the closest slaughterhouse and separately from other cows. The transporter and trader of this cow will also receive a warning letter not to bring in a cow in such a condition again. The farmer faces a visit by the Dutch authorities now. The facilities at the market are still quite good- there is lots of bedding on the ground and water troughs placed in all areas where the cows are and a relatively new loading ramp to reduce the steepness for animals to climg into the trucks. We tested all the water troughs and one was not working and gave water manually to the animals inside the pen. The market board promised to repair it. At the time we arrived they were milking cows with full udders, which is a good sign. The market is planning on building a small parlour so that 6 lactating cows with full udders can be milked at a time. This is very positive.