Because of the extreme heat we made an unannounced visit to slaughterhouse VION in Boxtel today. On arrival (10:45, 38 degrees Celsius) there were no less than 8 loaded pig trucks waiting in front of the slaughterhouse. The trucks were parked in direct sunlight. There were a few small fans and the asphalt was sprayed with water, however, these measures were inadequate to prevent animal suffering.
In the trucks we found pigs with severe heat stress, some were panting, breathing extremely fast or lying on the floor listless. The cause of the long waiting times, namely a waiting area that is too small and insufficient unloading areas, are not addressed by VION.
Due to the extremely long waiting times and high temperatures, some of the trucks were sent by VION to nearby locations. Our team visited one such location. There were three trucks parked beside a row of trees. The trees gave shade and provided a small breeze. The temperature in the trucks, however, remained dangerously high (36 degrees and 38% humidity).
Drivers have also expressed their concerns to us. They said that the waiting time at VION Boxtel is at least 2-6 hours. Eyes on Animals finds it unacceptable that every summer we repeatedly see pigs suffering from heat stress while waiting in front of VION Boxtel. We have asked VION to purchase bigger fans and create shaded areas – until there is a larger lairage with more unloading areas. VION has advised that due to the current design of the slaughterhouse the lairage cannot be enlarged, but they are busy with developing (other) plans to reduce heatstress. Last year they hired a shed so waiting trucks could park in the shade – but unfortunately this shed could not be cooled and ventilated properly. VION Boxtel has promised to share their plans with us at the beginning of 2019.