Taking responsibility for people, animals and the environment is in the DNA of all the companies in our group. We are continually looking for better ways of fulfilling this responsibility. Our Animal Welfare Officers play an important role in this regard.
Animal Welfare Officers are employed in all our slaughterhouses. They are experts in animal behaviour and are trained in animal welfare and in the company’s processes. In addition to the mandatory Animal Welfare training at vocational training organisation SVO, the Animal Welfare Officers have further deepened their knowledge at Bristol University. They are, therefore, well equipped to ensure that the animals receive the best possible treatment within our company processes.
On recommendation of animal welfare staff, the waiting pen, passageway and stun box have been modified at abattoir ESA. One such modification is the green lighting that now shines in the waiting pen. It ensures a more quiet atmosphere for the calves with less shadows on the ground and therefore less panic reactions. The animal welfare team has also replaced the fencing with plastic fences and plastic strips or caps. This muffles sound, and the animals remain calmer.
Four Animal Welfare Officers are employed our subsidiary ESA. Their team leader explains: “In order to practice as Animal Welfare Officers, we have been specially trained by lecturers at Bristol University. That’s given us new ideas and insights. I never thought that something as simple as vinegar could help calm animals, for instance. Vinegar is sprayed on the back of animals, masking scent. That way, the animals mount each other less and general calm is better preserved.” Communication is also an important responsibility of the animal welfare team. “As Animal Welfare Officers, we are trained to offer clarity to the outside world and to people within the organisation. We hold them accountable if things are not going well, and make sure we transmit our knowledge effectively,” the foreman continues.
At the moment, the animal welfare team is hard at work modifying the passageway. This is being done according to the insights of the American zoologist Temple Grandin, who has conducted extensive research into animal welfare in slaughterhouses. “One of the things we want to do is remove all obstacles from the passageway. This sounds logical, but cattle view things differently from us. Each stripe on the floor or irregularity on the wall can be a huge obstacle for an animal. Simply because the animal is not familiar with the surroundings and sees things differently,” according to the project’s initiator.
When it comes to animal welfare, our Animal Welfare Officers innovate continuously. Innovation is at the very heart of our organisation. It enables us to make the chain stronger and more sustainable.