Today we visited pig slaughterhouse Westfort in IJsselstein. Thankfully, it was not as warm (approx. 25°C) as the previous day, as it was overcast and had just rained. We arrived late afternoon so only one truck was waiting. The truck stood under netting which provided shade along both the top and one side of the truck, with fans and misting systems using cool water. These had been installed partly at the advice of EonA. In the shade of the netting it was noticeably cooler and pleasant, mainly due to the cold water mist. Westfort advised that temperatures inside the trucks drop by approx. 4°C under the shade-netting in about 20 minutes. Also trucks have to park behind each other. Parking side by side is not allowed as the heat cannot escape and the trucks would be blowing warm air in each other’s direction.
Westfort also invested in a large moveable ladder so they can check on the pigs on the upper decks of the waiting trucks. In cases where pigs show signs of severe heatstress, the truck will be given priority unloading. Drivers arriving too early are instructed to keep driving to create extra ventilation (providing air flow ). They are not allowed outside the shade netting and an employee drives around to check this. We think this is very positive. At a lot of Dutch slaughterhouses, standing stationary in the area is still tolerated which can lead to severe heatstress. Westfort also informed us that the previous day (July 19th >35°C) 2500 fewer pigs were delivered so that they could finish around 13:00. Normally the slaughter work at Westfort continues into the evening.
There is still a relatively long waiting period under the shade netting (according to Westfort max 1 hour, which matches our observations of last year). This is undesirable; during extreme heat animals should be unloaded immediately. Inside the trucks you will never create conditions as optimal as in the waiting pens where you can give the animals space.
We saw the unloading of one truck; this was done properly and with little noise. The pigs had very little heat stress. All in all our impression was positive. We will visit Westfort again on a very warm day to determine how the situation is then. We would want to see for example if the ventilation under the shade-netting is sufficient, that no trucks are parked outside this area and how long the waiting times are. We want to thank Westfort for their time, their effort and transparency.