Dear donors and friends,

Unfortunately warm sunny days are not a cause for celebration for everyone. In hot weather, just like every other day, thousands of animals are still transported. Inside a livestock truck the animals are tightly packed and the heat can become unbearable. In order to protect the animals from heat stress, the industry association Vee&Logistiek (Livestock&Logistics) has set up a protocol. How much effect does this protocol have in practice?

During the last two weeks, our teams were checking the welfare of animals during the summer heat.

Heat Protocol insufficient at slaughterhouse VION in the Netherlands

On the 24th of  August Eyes on Animals inspected 15 pig trucks that were waiting in the queue at the VION  slaughterhouse in Boxtel. We measured the temperature inside the trucks and in several it was above 35 Celsius. Most of the trucks had full loads with the density of animals on board not being reduced, some of the fans did not work and many animals showed severe signs of heat stress, such as foaming at the mouth and heavy panting.

Watch a short video here (warning: shocking footage).

The media paid a lot to attention to the findings of Eyes on Animals. Articles appeared in, amongst others, Trouw, Pigbusiness, Brabants Dagblad and Nieuwsgrazer.

On the 25th of August 25 Eyes on Animals was present  again at the entrance to the slaughterhouse in Boxtel. This time the majority of the trucks were loaded with 10% fewer pigs. The media attention and the discussion with the Dutch authorities  and Vee&Logistiek obviously had an effect. During the following days our inspections appeared twice on Omroep Brabant. We were also - together with Henk Bleker - guests at NPO Radio1. Henk Bleker, the chairman of the industry association Vee&Logistiek, acknowledged that the Heat Protocol did not work sufficiently well and promised to improve it.

UK sheep in transit for 23 hours in soaring heat

In late August, an Eyes on Animals team inspected six sheep shipments from Dutch transport companies at the port of Calais (FR). The sheep transports arrived in the middle of the night with the boat Joline from England. Many trucks were overloaded: because of a lack of space the sheep sometimes had to stand on each other. Also, several sheep were coughing. We followed one transport from the company Diepeveen to a petrol station in the Netherlands. Although a large part of the transport took place at night, these sheep did not escape the terrible heat. During the last five hours of our trailing the temperature outside was above 30°C. In total, the journey took 23 hours. The sheep came from the UK and were destined for a halal slaughterhouse in Germany.

Watch the video of this trailing here.

We are going to send our report and video to the official authorities in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.

Poultry trucks in full sun at Dutch slaughterhouse

Unfortunately the Protocol to protect animals transported in hot weather is not applicable to poultry. We therefore sent out a team to a large chicken slaughterhouse in Breukelen to document the need for chickens to also be better protected. We saw a number of loaded poultry trucks parked in the full sun. However, the roofs of these trucks were raised for extra ventilation. The degree of loading also appeared to be slightly lower than normal. Unfortunately there was no one at the slaughterhouse who could tell us about the exact measures taken to prevent heat stress in chickens. We will stay in touch with this plant.

Inspection of German slaughterhouse Weidemark

During the heat wave another team from Eyes on Animals was accompanied by a journalist from Vroege Vogels radio. This team visited Weidemark, a large slaughterhouse in Sögel, Germany. Many Dutch pigs are brought to this slaughterhouse. It is well known that the waiting times at this slaughterhouse can be long. Unfortunately, we also saw overloaded trucks at this slaughterhouse. Fortunately, there were also transport companies that did respect the protocol’s lower loading densities and had fewer pigs on board. As a result of our meeting with the manager of Weidemark, the slaughterhouse has now bought mobile industrial fans to cool the waiting trucks. It was also agreed that in a few years, a bigger lairage will be built so that the pigs can be unloaded instead of left on board waiting. They will also try to build additional parking-space in the shade. These steps are small, but effective in reducing some of the stress.

You can listen to the report by Vroege Vogels here.

The inspections by Eyes on Animals during the heat wave were not fruitless! Henk Bleker promised to modify the Heat Protocol, the Party for the Animals has requested a parliamentary debate, a large German slaughterhouse has promised improvements and many uninformed people - via the media - have learnt of the fate of animals in this heat. Without our work in the field and negotiations with the industry the suffering of many animals would carry on, out of sight, with no chance of improvement.

Please continue to support us so that we can continue this vital work.

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