Today Eyes on Animals paid an unannounced visit to Baijens assembly center in Baarle-Nassau. We spoke briefly with the owner and received a guided tour. There were no animals present at the time of our visit.
At Baijens, unweaned calves are collected. They have customers for mainly the heavier calves (weighing 45 kilo’s and more). On Wednesday morning, the calves are picked up from various dairy farms and taken to their assembly center. Here, the calves are sorted by weight, breed and sex. In the evening, the calves are taken to fattening farms. Often, the calves have had milk in the morning (before transport to the assembly center). The owner informed us that, in general, the calves are not watered at his assembly center. They receive water with electrolytes when they arrive at the fattening farms (late at night). The next morning, they receive milk again. This means that the calves do not get any milk (=nutrition) for 24 hours. We have shared our concerns about this policy. However, the owner informed us it does not harm the calves when they do not receive milk for 24 hours. If the calves stay overnight at his facility, they will receive water with electrolytes. But this does not happen often.
The pens in which the calves are kept are made of fences with metal bars. We have informed the owner that closed fences are better for calves. It ensures that the calves are less distracted by stimuli from their surroundings, that there is less chance of getting caught and that they suffer less from possible draft. The owner informed us that he can sympathize with our concerns, but that he has not experienced any problems with his fences.
We would like to thank the owner for his time and transparency. We will visit Baijens again next year at a time when calves are present, so that we can also see the movement, loading and unloading of the calves.