Today we visited Feenstra, a non-intensive slaughterhouse (20 pigs per hour) in The Netherlands with Beter Leven Keurmerk. We went today because the pigs from the new pig meat company “Zonvarken” were going to be slaughtered. We had advised Zonvarkens on what they could do to limit fear and pain during transport and slaughter of their animals. One of our suggestions was to not send their pigs to a slaughterhouses using CO2 to stun the pigs but also not to one using electric stunning where the slaughterline is very fast and stressful.
Feenstra seemed like the right choice. At Feenstra the handling of the pigs was very calm and professional. The pigs were manually electrically stunned and remained together in a small group. The stunning was performed very well, we did not observe any animals incorrectly stunned or regaining consciousness. The pigs are unconscious in less than a second which is better than CO2 gas stunning where pigs have shortness of breath and panic for 15-30 seconds. There was also straw for the pigs that had to wait overnight in the lairage and there was play material in all pens. The pigs in the straw-bedded pens were particularly calm. Most were either sleeping or rooting.
As long as people eat meat and pigs will be slaughtered, then we prefere that pigs be slaughtered at a slaughterhouse such as this one where a lot of conscious effort is made by the owner and small staff to reduce fear and pain as much as possible. We’ve given tips to reduce hierarchical fighting among the intact male pigs and create a focal point in the stun pen (rack with straw) so that pigs are focused on something positive and the stun forceps can be placed even more easily. The owner was immediately willing to get started with this idea and the day after our visit had already ordered the racks. Additionally, we were allowed to photograph and film and we are welcome to come back whenever we like, also unannounced. We would like to thank Feenstra for their transparency and for their genuine efforts in keeping stress to a minimum and taking animal-welfare seriously.