Today Eyes on Animals visited Pali slaughterhouse in Geldrop (NL). Since our first visit in 2018 Pali has put several of our recommendations into practice. They closed the sides of the raceway to prevent distractions, have improved the light in the single file raceway, hung up several banners to improve handling and improved the pen for suspect-pigs. They also changed the color of the anti-reverse doors so they are less of a visual barrier.
Our visit today was mainly to see the latest improvements; a new S-turn at the entrance of the single-file. The S-turn was built in order to make the entrance – from group to single file – less abrupt and therefore less scary. We observed the S-turn and concluded it worked best when the groups were very small and the worker (moving the pigs into the single file) barely interfered. We have recommend Pali to use even smaller groups (max 6 pigs) and to adjust the sizes of the S-turn a bit, so there is less chance of bottlenecking. Nevertheless it was a great improvement since our first visit to Pali – stress has reduced significantly. In the single file raceway pigs still experienced some stress as they cannot continue walking at all times – due to the ‘stop and start’ movement of the MIDAS restrainer. Partly, this can be tackled by installing a newer MIDAS restrainer, however Pali does not have enough space to build it, as it is longer. The ‘stop and start’ movement is also caused by pigs balking in front of the MIDAS belly-belt restrainer. Pali will experiment with a false floor underneath the MIDAS to take away some of the fear pigs are experiencing.
Moreover, Pali has also informed us that they will built a new unloading dock, so there will be a lower chance of pigs balking or slipping (which was a concern during our previous visit). We would really like to compliment Pali for their ongoing efforts and creativity to reduce stress as much as possible within the limitations of the MIDAS. We also think it is good that they keep their slaughter-speed relatively low (300 pigs per hour instead of 600-700 at most bigger slaughterhouses). Moving pigs with high speed is often causing a lot of animal welfare problems.