On August 24th we had a brainstorm session with Dr. Temple Grandin and the CEO/COO of a large pig slaughterhouse in Europe. This was to look at how to continuously improve animal welfare at their plant.
Today was our first day at the plant to observe their present status and make plans on improving their set-up where possible. We documented all potential stress areas in the plant where pigs flow through were not fluent and where employees were forced to use some kind of physical stimulation to move them through.
In the afternoon our team, which included Dr. Kees Scheepens, tested out running the pigs through without using any force or unnecessary noise, and by moving smaller groups. The faulty design of the corridor and tunnel leading to the stunner (many reflections, shadows, different type of flooring, narrow passage, obstacles) as well as their request to maintain their regular per hour production rate made it impossible. Using our humane handling techniques, we did not get close to the requested rate.
We will now develop a plan with the slaughterhouse team on what practical and fast changes can be made to the current equipment to see if this can help at all. For example: remove obstacles, improve lighting to reduce shadows on floor, make entrance of tunnel clearer for the pigs to understand where to go…). If this does not result in improvements , it is likely that the whole design needs to be re-thought and re-built from scratch. We will return on September 18th. The finer details and the name of the abattoir are confidential because the company hired Eyes on Animals for help.
We would like to at least commend the company on reaching out for help and showing a genuine interest in trying to find a solution.