News item | 05-10-2022 | 14:52
Last summer, the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority received a total of 453 public reports of heat stress in animals. Most (427) concerned a lack of shade and drinking water for animals on the pasture. After assessing the seriousness of the situation and the completeness of the reports, more than 40 percent (189) were sent for inspection. It led to 12 written warnings for meadow animals. In addition, during the heat NVWA carried out 200 animal welfare inspections during transport, of which four did not comply with the transport regulation.
Of all received reports of heat stress in meadow animals, 98 situations were assessed by inspectors on site. Not all reports were useful or led to the finding of a violation. For example, because accurate location data was lacking, or because the nature and severity could not be sufficiently established. In 12 cases, a violation was found, after which a written warning was given. In a further 15 cases, there was almost a violation, and the situation could be rectified immediately – following the inspectors’ instructions – to avoid heat damage.
The 12 violations found in grazing animals were all for inadequate shelter. This falls under the category of violations, where the animal keeper receives a written warning and is required to rectify the situation immediately. If an animal also shows signs of heat stress under supervision, it is a more serious offense and carries a fine. Of these twelve violations, seven were in sheep, three in horses and two in oxen.
NVWA already started in June to make animal keepers and sector organizations aware of the importance of protecting animals in the meadow from heat and the national plan for livestock transport in extreme temperatures. ‘Partly due to frequent warning notices from the NVWA for temperatures above 27 degrees, vigilance among zookeepers and the public has increased,’ says Senior Inspector Jelle de Winter. He is a veterinarian and expert in the influence of heat on the animal welfare of meadow animals. There were short and longer periods of heat with extremely high temperatures, sometimes above 34 degrees, where reports from citizens and NGOs may have also contributed to preventing heat stress in animals.
Livestock transport and slaughterhouses
During the heat periods, NVWA also carried out 200 checks on the transport and delivery of animals to slaughterhouses on the basis of the transport regulation. With expected outside temperatures above 33 degrees, it was possible to deliver animals to slaughterhouses earlier at relatively lower temperatures. Furthermore, at higher temperatures, fewer animals must be transported per wagon, and the ventilation of the wagon and in the slaughterhouse stables must be in order. Of the 200 inspections carried out on the transport, four deficiencies were found, some of which were heat-related. This led to an on-the-spot notice, two written warnings for administrative violations and a written warning for several non-functioning ventilators. No damage to animal welfare was found.
Heat stress in pigs
There was news in the media last summer about heat stress in pigs. Pictures from animal rights organization Eyes on Animals showed animal welfare was poor while waiting for transport to a slaughterhouse. NVWA was unable to make the same observation during its inspections of the abattoir in question. Therefore, NVWA has requested the raw images and data, among other things, to investigate whether enforcement can still be carried out on the basis of this. NVWA hereby enforces the European Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 (Transport Regulation) and the national animal welfare rules from the Animal Act.
What does the NVWA do in case of heat?
- Extra control at the farm and slaughterhouse.
- Extra animal welfare check when transporting livestock if it is warmer than 27 degrees.
- We look at the above-mentioned rules for grazing, stables and transport, which the owner must comply with as a minimum.
- If an inspector finds an animal welfare violation, a written warning, a remedial measure and/or a fine follows.
For more information, see the heat page on the NVWA website: Monitoring animal welfare in extreme temperatures
Making a report on the welfare of farm animals in case of heat: Report: Welfare/neglect of farm animals (nvwa.nl)