Transport rules “orange pigs” thwart the transport of livestock

The rules for transporting “orange pigs” to the slaughterhouse cause more suffering to the animal than prevent it. This group of animals is subject to the rules of special transport for livestock, as it requires increased attention. This may be due to an umbilical hernia or a slightly damaged tail.

The lack of a unanimous assessment of ‘transport under conditions’ by the Dutch Consumer Product and Food Safety Authority (NVWA) veterinarian leads to uncertainty among livestock transporters. The pig should be central to applicable transportation rules, and guidelines. In short, this was the significance of the Por-k language about the guidelines for the transport of pigs held by the VKON Knowledge Center from Den Ham in Overijssel on Monday evening.

Since the guidelines came into force in November 2021, the central organization of the meat sector, LTO Nederland, Pig Producers Organization (POV), Saveetra and Vee & Logistiek Nederland have been discussing a workable solution to ‘conditional transport’.

The imposed method is not applicable

NVWA implemented its current working method and implementation on April 4. After six weeks, cattle carriers and pig breeders indicate that this imposed method is not viable. “The diversity among ‘orange pigs’ is great and this also applies to the way NVWA vets evaluate them,” says Gerrit van Wijk of Erik Nijsink Livestock and Pig Trading of Wierden in Overijssel.

NVWA’s sanction policy is strict. After four warnings, the carrier has to pay: the first time 1500 euros, the second time 3000 euros, the third time 4500 euros, and so on. As a result, drivers and carriers do not take unnecessary risks and pigs often do not go to the slaughterhouse. Then it is up to the pig breeders to take them on the next mode of transport or euthanize.

Load Factor Adjustment

This is a problem for pig breeders. They think that pigs that have a simple observation should be able to go to the slaughterhouse with the herd. They have no problem that the load factor should be 80 percent. The pigs of simple observation are in good health, always run normally in the herd, and now that they are ready for slaughter, they will not go to the slaughterhouse.

It pains me when I have to spray beautiful pigs on a farm, just because I have an umbilical hernia. I find euthanasia of animals based on cosmetic abnormalities repugnant, replied Johann Holzing of Coöperatie Varkensartsen of Harbrinkhoek in Overijssel.

Van Wejk describes the current situation as impractical. We hit a wall that seems impenetrable. I know there are carriers where drivers quit because they can’t handle the current stress and the risk of making a wrong decision.

Put the drivers’ heart under the belt

Bart Camps of Camps Varkenshandel bv from Oostrum in Limburg prepared a letter two weeks ago that drivers can hand it over to the NVWA vet upon arrival at the slaughterhouse. Organizations tried to sort things out from the top. “This is one way to do it from the bottom up.” The letter is also meant to encourage drivers and also serves a legal purpose: responsibility.

The moral of the letter is that the driver has evaluated the pigs as to their worthiness for carriage as best they can and in good faith. The message was shared widely in the livestock transportation world for ten days and delivered to the NVWA vet on duty at unloading. NVWA has not responded to this yet. “If the guidelines don’t go off the table, we can stop.”

Focus on the herd animal

Discussion over the guidelines between livestock carriers, ranchers and the NVWA has reached an impasse. During Pork-t-eel, it was suggested in discussions that pigs as herd animals should be centralized. A pig experiences more stress from being alone or separated in a room than when an animal is kept in a herd.

The transfer does not open the umbilical hernia and does not make the damaged tail worse. Vet Holzing says the animal’s welfare is at risk. The debate on “conditional transfer” is not only a problem in pig farming, but also in dairy farming.

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