Today Eyes on Animals visited Van Rooi slaughterhouse in Helmond (NL) where several improvements were implemented following our advice. A large section of the automatic push gates (that lead the pigs to the CO2 stunner) were removed and replaced by calm workers. This has significantly reduced stress levels amongst the pigs. The pigs now walk more calmly and their stress-behavior witnessed during the previous visit, such as jumping on top of each other, screaming and balking was significantly lowered. As most of the push-gates are now removed, there is also far less chance of pigs being pushed over or getting stuck underneath.
They now use sawdust on the loading dock floor and in the raceways towards the lairage. This masks distractions found on the floor, such as metal strips, puddles and drains, resulting in the pigs walking with more confidence and with less chance of jamming. Dead end corners that the pigs got stuck in have also been removed by making the gates retractable.
There is however still room for further improvement. We found the unloading ramp rather steep, the rattling cans still being used too often (causing noise and thus stress) and the climate-condition in the lairage poor. To further reduce stress we also recommended the last part of the raceway to be improved and CO2 exposure-times and levels to be increased (this does not cause additional stress, but improves the depth of unconsciousness). Van Rooi told us that they will work with our advice. They tell us by June the climate conditions in the waiting pen will have been addressed. We want to thank Van Rooi for the significant steps that have already taken place. They make a huge difference for thousands of pigs each day.