Last spring Eyes on Animals together with Dr. Kees Scheepens helped Westfort pig slaughterhouse develop a “Plan-of-Action” to significantly reduce animal-stress inside their plant. Westfort pig slaughterhouse started by intensively training their personnel on animal-welfare and how to carry out their specific tasks optimally. Each employee was then evaluated to be sure they learned from the training and were now skilled for the position.
They also drastically reduced the noise level (people only use their hands and plastic flags to move the pigs forward, instead of rattlers or plastic paddles and they placed rubbers on gates and inserted walls between each unloading ramp). Pigs are now kept in larger groups and thus given more room in the lairage. To combat fighting between intact males they are experimenting with odour sprays and the first preliminary results are positive.
They made structural changes to their raceway so that pigs were less anxious to move through it. All these things have led to a much calmer environment and a better flow inside their plant. As a result the pH of their meat improved by 0.2 points. pH value is an indicator of the level of stress in animals prior to slaughter. We would still like to see plants like Westfort move away from CO2-gas stunning, which remains a source of significant pain and stress that lasts for up to 20 seconds, but are very pleased to see how their hard efforts pre-stunning have lead to a great reduction of the total stress. The handling at this plant is the best we have seen when comparing it to other plants of their size.