Today we met with truck building company Berdex to discuss the design of livestock trucks. We exchanged knowledge and ideas and discussed the following concerns:
During inspections, EonA witnessed on numerous occasions that the humidity in cross-ventilated trucks (completely closed trucks with mechanical ventilation inside) is much too high, causing heat stress among pigs. Although the driver can regulate air circulation from his cabin, it appears the maximum capacity of fans is not always sufficient. Berdex let us know that demand is increasing from the sector for more cross-ventilated trucks that can also be ventilated naturally by opening side slides. We are pleased to learn that the sector itself now also realizes the importance of this.
We also witnessed that pigs experience increased heatstress in trucks with perforated metal plates on the side, as these block the natural ventilation. The assumption is that the perforated plates are placed to prevent body parts from becoming stuck during loading and unloading of the pigs, but this argument only applies to trucks with moveable flooring. Trucks made by Berdex and many other manufacturers don’t have these. The perforated plates appear to be in situ mainly so that the pigs are less “visible” to the public, resulting in less negative comments en route.
Eyes on Animals feels that livestock trucks with perforated plates on the sides and cross ventilated trucks without manual ventilation slides should be banned during the summer period. We have also advised Berdex to fit livestock trucks with vents in the roof just like in poultry trucks, so that the warm air can escape.
- Slippery floors
Flooring within the trucks are made of metal with a profile for grip. When there is not enough sawdust covering the floor, which Eyes on Animals sometimes witnesses, it becomes slippery from urine and excrement. Berdex informed us they do offer different floorings (a rough type of asphalt) but that this is heavy and costly and is therefore only used for the tailgate.
- Lack of headspace
The slaughter weight of pigs has increased in recent years; as a result pigs have also become “taller”. Consequently, the height of the compartments (90cm) is no longer adequate, resulting in insufficient headspace, leading to lack of ventilation. This becomes a serious problem during the hot summer months (heatstress).
- Access doors
Proper doors are essential to provide access to the animals in an emergency. For closed trucks they are necessary just to be able to see the animals and to supply them with fresh air in case of an emergency. Access doors are therefore required by law for all livestock trucks (Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005, Annex I, Chapter II, 1.1f.). Eyes on Animals has been trying to call attention to the lack of proper access doors in livestock trucks since 2012.
We are disappointed that the sector and regulatory organizations apparently still do not pay enough attention to the lack of access doors. Truck manufacturers continue to build trucks with doors that are too small ( a driver or veterinarian does not fit through) or don’t have any. The RDW (Dutch DMV), who work on behalf of the NVWA, does carry out inspections of livestock trucks with a type II permit (transport > 8 hrs), however they don’t set minimum size requirements for the access doors, which means they are often too small. Trucks with a type I certificate (domestic transport) are not inspected at all by the RDW which means – unlawfully – access doors are regularly missing. Eyes on Animals will again ask the authorities to specify how big the doors need to be (as is being done in Germany ) and to act with enforcement when livestock trucks don’t have ( proper ) entry doors. The German competent authority recently fined a Dutch transportation company because his access doors were too small.
We found the meeting with Berdex positive. They were receptive to our ideas and advice and took the time to speak with us whilst giving us a tour of their company.