Today we visited Janssen export assembly center in Neerkant. There was plenty of activity at the time of our visit. There were hundreds of sows and piglets present. There was also one boar.
Piglets with abnormalities are collected from many different Dutch farms eager to get rid of them, and brought here to be grouped together and exported to slaughterhouses in Croatia and Italy. They had umbilical hernias, inguinal hernias, bitten tails or a swelling. They fortunately had sufficient space, sawdust, water and feed.
Because of the warm weather, the doors and windows of the stables were completely open. Fans were also running. We did not detect any heat stress among the piglets. But we did see a few sows that were panting and breathing very rapidly. The sows arrived shortly before our visit and possibly still had (heat)stress from transport and unloading. Some sows were also kept in overcrowded pens, which made their heat stress worse because not all could lie down at the same time. In some pens there was a lot of fighting. Janssen Neerkant says that they keep the sows quite crowded because they believe it helps limit fighting as the sows have less room to fight.
To prevent heat stress among the sows, we recommended that Janssen Neerkant set up a number of extra mobile fans. Furthermore, we believe that the density level in the sow pens must be reduced. It is better to separate fighting sows instead of overcrowding the pens. An export assembly point is also intended to let animals rest before transport. In our view, there was too much fighting stress and insufficient space to allow the sows to rest.
We checked the condition of the loading ramp as well. It has a non-slip floor and litter is thrown on for extra slip resistance, which is very good. However, the lateral protectors are not solid to the ground, but open. We have recommended closing these so that the larger pigs cannot see through them. Too many stimuli from the side can cause pigs to be distracted too much and hesitate to move forward, which causes impatience and irritation among the human handlers. To ease smooth movement and lower stress among the animals and employers, the lateral protectors of the ramps should be made solid.
Mr. Janssen took the time to talk to us, lead us around his animal export station and allowed us to take photos. We would like to thank him for this.