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Dear friends,
 
Despite the extreme heat and high humidity these last days still tens of thousands of pigs were transported to Dutch slaughterhouses. We visited the two largest: VION in Boxtel and VION in Apeldoorn. We observed stationary trucks full of pigs having to wait for far too long before the slaughterhouses could unload the animals and signs of serious heat stress among the loaded pigs. The heart-breaking footage we took went viral.
 
Since the construction of these slaughterhouses, the plants kill more and more animals per hour, but the size of their lairage doesn’t get bigger and the number of offloading ramps do not grow in numbers! Therefore, more and more pigs have to wait in the trucks until there is space in the slaughterhouse for them to unload.

So what happens during extreme temperatures with high humidity? Pigs are stuck on terribly hot trucks, crammed together, without water and have to wait like this. All of these things, despite the slaughterhouse managers and officials knowing that pigs are very vulnerable to heat stress because they are unable to sweat and are fast growers.

We saw pigs gasping for air and foaming at the mouth (collection of dried saliva from panting so much); they desperately pushed themselves onto the fans, and we later saw several collapse on the tailgate during unloading. We registered waiting times of at least two hours and panting rates of 180 per minute!
Inspectieteam Eyes o Animals in actie
VION in Apeldoorn: Our inspection team at a pig truck standing still for more than 1,5 hours in the blazing sun.
VION Boxtel
VION in Boxtel: Pigs gasping for air in a waiting truck. We haven’t seen such long waiting times at any other slaughterhouse in the Netherlands.
VION Apeldoorn
VION in Apeldoorn: Extreme heat stress in a truck that stood still for more than an hour. When unloading, the condition of two pigs was so bad that they had to be put out of their misery on the spot; one pig was dead already. He had large purple spots in the neck, which indicates that he most likely suffocated. 

Improvements

At our insistence a few years ago, VION had built canopies and placed fans to create a small shaded area for trucks to park under. We are also allowed to visit; Vion is open to our advice and sometimes makes improvements. We appreciate this. 
 
However, the improvements are too small, especially on such tropical days. A canopy to park under does not offer a solution to the core problem: there are simply too many pigs being brought to the slaughterhouse. As long as VION doesn’t decrease its slaughter capacity, these problems will continue to exist. We expect more from the largest meat producer in the Netherlands!

What we want:
  • Decrease in slaughter capacity in order for pigs to be unloaded within 15 minutes.
     
  • Improvement of the current canopy: much larger, more fans, cooled-water misting and a shadow net on the side to block the sun’s rays from the sides too.
     
  • No transport during extreme temperatures. Currently the limit for transporting pigs is only set at 35 degrees in the shade, which can mean 40 degrees in the sun! But above 27 degrees Celsius should be the maximum, especially for animals such as pigs as they are so vulnerable to heat and humidity stress.

Media-attention

For these structural changes, we need politics. And politics will come into action when there’s fuss in the media. That’s why we contacted the media, with success! Last Sunday Kees Scheepens, the veterinarian who went on inspection with us, was interviewed on Omroep Brabant television. Watch the interview here >>

We will not give up -  we are in discussion with VION and soon also with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture about these recent observations. We will continue doing our best to expose this problem, and hopefully have it solved one day for good.

Will you help us?

In order for us to continue with these inspections, every donation is more than welcome. Thank you very much!
Lesley Moffat
director Eyes on Animals
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