Today we carried out an unannounced inspection at VION slaughterhouse in Apeldoorn because of the tropical weather. It was around 31°C in the shade and 37°C in the sun, with an air humidity of around 30%. We observed a waiting truck, visited the lairage and talked to the company manager about measures to combat heat stress.
VION Apeldoorn had insufficient facilities to protect animals in waiting trucks from the heat. There were three holding areas for loaded livestock trucks, two of which were in the sun. We therefore advised VION to create more shaded areas with some powerful fans sat high alongside the parked trucks. We also recommended whitewashing the asphalt . The business manager was open to our ideas and stated that he would also consider a misting system.
In the holding shed it was about 7 degrees cooler than outside in the sun (30°C instead of 37°C). However, the humidity was slightly higher than outside. Because of the heat, the stocking density in the pens was lower than normal.
One waiting truck was inspected; the loading density was 10% lower than normal in accordance with the heat protocol (10 instead of 12 pigs per compartment). However, this is still too high as the pigs still cannot lie apart from each other to lose body heat. All the fans were switched on and the truck was parked in partial shade. Luckily, there was a small breeze, but . nevertheless, some pigs were suffering from heat stress. The waiting time was approximately 1.5 hours, which is too long.
Eyes on Animals believes that the transport of animals during tropical weather should be moved to the cooler hours of the night and morning. Until then, slaughterhouses should make every possible provision to protect the animals from the heat when they have to wait in the trucks. Practical provisions include: Covered parking areas or trees for shade, powerful fans set at heights to reach all decks, a misting system and the whitewashing and wetting of the asphalt.
We would like to thank the business manager for his time and the open discussion.