Today Eyes on Animals made an unannounced visit to the Van de Wetering assembly center in Zwolle. We were warmly welcomed by the manager and immediately given a tour.
Van de Wetering collects unweaned calves (14-35 days old) for fattening farms in the Netherlands. The barns where the calves are held looked well maintained. There was a thick layer of straw on the floor and the calves had ample space. The calves can be unloaded directly at the waiting shed, thus moving calves down long corridors is avoided.
The calves are collected during the day and are transported around 17:15. Upon arrival at the assembly point it is not standard procedure to provide water of milk for the calves. The manager advised us that calves can easily do without water/milk for a period of time. They do provide a water-electrolyte mix if, for example, calves arrive very early or are in moderate condition.
Eyes on Animals believes that unweaned calves should always be fed milk, or at least be provided with a water-electrolyte mix, at collection centers. Young calves require fluids on a regular basis. This need is further increased by the stress of transport and a new environment. Eyes on Animals also advised the manager to reduce the metal noise produced by the fencing, as it stresses the calves. The manager told us he was already working on this.
We want to thank Van de Wetering for their time and transparency.