Today Eyes on Animals visited Vion slaughterhouse in Boxtel. On July 18 we documented long waiting lines and pigs suffering severely from heat stress. We were hoping today the situation would have improved, but unfortunately it had not. Again, we documented pigs waiting on board stationary trucks, with an average time of 70 minutes, and up to 2 hours. This is unacceptable, especially on hot days, like today. The canopy that was built by Vion (on our recommendation) is not good enough yet. It needs more fans and a cooled-water-misting system. In addition, the canopy should be expanded, so all the trucks can park underneath, also when they are waiting at the reception to do paper work (there is no shade at this point).
At the end of the day we saw two trucks around the corner of Vion slaughterhouse. They were parked in full sun. The outside temperature was 33 degrees Celsius, with a humidity of 31%. The situation on board of one of these trucks (Van Esseveldt & Loomans) was alarming. Almost all the pigs were panting with their mouths wide open and necks stretched. Some were lying on their sides (in an attempt to cool down on the floor). Others had foam around their mouths. Breathing rates were extremely high (>120 per minute, when 30-40 is normal).
We asked the driver to start driving – in order to at least get some wind in the truck. Unfortunately he refused. We therefore notified Vion and requested them to take action. After some time Vion allowed the driver to enter their premises and park underneath the canopy. But all-in all, the truck stood still for over 70 minutes (of which almost 50 minutes was in the sun).
As the problems at Vion slaughterhouse in Boxtel are structural and have been going on for many years, Eyes on Animals has filed an enforcement request with the Ministry of Agriculture. In our opinion the long waiting times on board stationary trucks and the inadequate waiting facilities are in violation with the EU Council Regulation 1099/2009. We hope this puts pressure on Vion to improve the situation for their pigs sooner rather than later.