A few years ago, Eyes on Animals observed how the Belgian transport and slaughter company “Wilki” regularly picked up “ spent” laying hens on farms in the Netherlands. We were very disappointed by the condition and quality of the crates they were using. Many of the crates were broken, and thus were at risk of collapsing (crushing the birds inside) under the weight of the loaded crates above, and the open gaps meant some birds risked falling out onto the road. The design of the doors of their crates was also very bad. Small flap doors pose a risk to hens having body parts crushed when shut, and because the opening is small, the birds can get hurt when stuffed 3-4 at a time through the small opening.
In 2013 we therefore invited the manager and veterinarian from Wilki to Coevorden (NL), where we sat in the office of a plastic- crate manufacturing company to discuss our concerns and propose solutions. We took a look at other crate designs and urged Wilki to replace all of its broken crates with new ones, of a different design. Wilki did this in steps, first replacing the most broken ones with new ones that had slightly larger flap-doors. But now in the summer/fall of 2016, Wilki has informed us that they have replaced all of their crates with the better-designed crates with sliding top doors (that pose much less risk of wings and heads getting crushed). Not only that, they also purchased 500 that additionally have side-access doors, which we worked on with Coevorden plastic company, so that at least the birds in the outer rows of the truck could be accessed if need be. Slowly but surely, change is possible! We would like to thank the Dutch authorities of the NVWA for also putting energy into stricter checks of poultry trucks and the quality of the crates.
During our inspections in 2012 we observed birds with their wings crushed in the flap-doors and broken crates on Wilki trucks.
In 2013 we invited Wilki to meet with us and a plastic crate manufacturer, plus some competent Dutch poultry insustry players, to discuss our concerns and think of solutions together.
Wilki not only has completely replaced all of their older crates with the newer ones with top sliding doors, but also ordered 500 crates that have the additional access doors on the side. Eyes on Animals promotes these so that at least the birds on the outer rows of the truck can be accessed and assisted during the journey if necessary. If Wilki is satisfied with the strength of the crates with side access doors, they have told us that they will buy more and more of them.