This afternoon it was 33 degrees with 40% humidity in Brabant. For this reason, a team from EonA was checking the roads to make sure there were no farm animals stuck on stationary trucks in distress. Close to Vion pig slaughterhouse we spotted 3 livestock trucks from the company Voss waiting on 3 different national roads. The trucks were parked and had their fans on, but still this was not enough. The respiratory frequency of the pigs on two of these trucks (the third one was a completely closed forced-ventilated truck without any possibility to look inside and the driver did not allow us to look inside) was 128/minute. This is a sign of extreme heat stress. All 3 trucks were stationary for over 75 minutes before entering Vion. Once they entered Vion they again had to wait before unloading. The exact time these animals were finally unloaded into the lairage at Vion Boxtel is unknown. We informed the drivers, Vion management as well as the police and NVWA about our observations and serious concerns. Vion did not let us in to observe the pig trucks parked under their canopy, but insisted they would keep an eye on the welfare of the pigs.
We spoke to the owner of Voss transport company later in the evening, they now understand our point that parking under a tree is often not adequate to avoid heat stress for the pigs in this type of temperature and humidity. It is important to observe the behaviour of the pigs closely and to count the respiration frequency and the build-up of foam around the mouth. We have made it clear that headwind is needed when the pigs show as much heat stress as we have seen today, they must continue driving until they can unload at the slaughterplant and never stay still. The main problem apparently remains with the planning of Vion slaughterhouse in Boxtel (NL) which was running behind today…again. We will continue to insist that Vion, but also the Dutch authorities at the NVWA, decide that with such frequent and such long waiting times, and often messy logistical planning, that it is crucial that the number of animals slaughtered per day be reduced at Vion Boxtel. A slaughterhouse that wants to slaughter so many pigs per hour (1200) cannot function with so few unloading ramps and so little space in their lairage and also their canopy.
We will continue also pushing for reduced daytime opening times on such hot and humid days, and that the KDS accept working at night when the weather conditions are much safer for animals.