Today our team conducted an unannounced visit of Meijer Harfsen’s export centre. We were kindly received and were allowed to see everything: the loading and weighing of calves, the newly arrived piglets and various livestock transport trucks that were at the company.
We were very satisfied with the treatment and the unloading of the calves. This was done quietly and without sticks or force. There was bedding in the pens and the gates were made out of plastic. Plastic gates make much less noise than metal so there was no loud slamming of doors, as is often the case at other facilities. The calves came from different dairy farms and were between 2-4 weeks old. The calves were destined for white and rose veal calf fattening farms in The Netherlands. Despite the handling being gentle, Eyes on Animals still finds it alarming that calves can be mixed at such a young age and transported. They are still so young and inexperienced, plus their immune system is not yet developed so many calves get diarrhea or respiratory disease from the stress. It is no wonder that the veal industry is one of the biggest users of antibiotics.
The piglets were for export to Croatia and they were fighting a lot with each other while in the lairage pens. The piglets came from different farms and were mixed, thus the new ranking order was being re-fought, but this can take up to 24 hours of constant stress. One solution is to keep the piglets in the same group as they were raised in on the farm. We have also heard that the medicine Suilence, which contains pheromones that make piglets calm can help. As possibly rubbing vinegar on their necks so they all smell the same to each other. Eyes on Animals will be investigating these options so that we can advise the manager, in the hope that this can be controlled better in the future.
We want to thank Johan Meijer friendly for his time and hospitality!