Today a team from Eyes on Animals, accompanied by a scientific researcher (Dr. Gerritzen from Wageningen University’s Livestock Research Center), visited the Vion pig slaughterhouse in Groenlo. Here pigs from the label “Groene Weg” are slaughtered, as well as pigs that do not fall under a special label. Groene Weg is a quality label where pigs are raised under higher welfare conditions.
We would first like to thank Vion Groenlo for accepting our request to re-visit their plant and discuss together ideas on how to further reduce stress during slaughter. We saw some positive points and appreciated their open attitude to try out an idea we saw earlier at Toennies- that of sprinkling corn on the empty pen floors before the pigs were placed in them in order to provide enrichment and distract them from becoming stressed or wanting to fight. It seemed to have a good effect today, with pigs walking into the waiting pens and focusing on foraging on the floor and remaining calm.
We had some concerns, in particular regarding the stress created when moving the pigs 180 degrees towards the double (parallel) chute leading to the electric stunner. As re-building this area to get rid of the sharp corner is too much of an investment, we think that at least reducing the noise level and group size could still make things better here. As well, it is important that employees in this area do not put too much pressure on the back of the line of pigs to move forward if they cannot because it is blocked up ahead. Additionally, some pigs in a rush to escape the employee in the last pen turned to enter the parallel chute but so quickly that they bumped into the divider between the two chutes with their faces. Vion has agreed with us that it is a good idea to cover the divider with a soft material.
Vion Groenlo has two unloading ramps that they use to unload pigs from the trucks into the building. One is very good, with even, anti-slip flooring and plastic sides that dampen the loud noise created when the metal gates of truck are slammed against it. But the other is rather slippery and has no material to dampen the noise of metal banging against metal. They will take note of our suggestion to pimp it up at some point. We noticed that they had placed a rubber mat in the waiting pen for animals arriving in poorer shape, which was a suggestion we made during our last visit in 2012. This has resulted in the pigs having a softer warmer floor to lie on whcih is positive. We hope that together more improvements can be attained and want to thank them for being open.