Eyes on Animals inspectors made a visit to the cull-cow market in Leeuwarden. Like at previous visits, it made a positive impression. The vet hired by the cattle-market gave us an extended tour. He explained and clarified things and answered our questions. He seemed to genuinely care about the welfare of the animals. There were no ‘downers’ or seriously ill cows present.
An employee milked the cows with leaking udders with a small milking machine. The floor was covered in straw so that there was limited risk of slipping and it’s more pleasant for the animals to stand and lie on. There is a water system; every cow is able to drink. Most animals were tied correctly; the ropes were long enough to lie down but not too long to risk entanglement. Some animals were tied on a high railing. The plan is that all animals will be tied on a lower railing. There was however an animal that was tied too short; the veterinarian told us that this was because of behavior, to avoid risk of breaking loose or injuries. A positive thing we noticed was pens in which animals were housed loosely. The market is working towards accommodating them like this more often in future.
It was once again striking to see how skinny the Holstein breed is; the difference with a Frisian breed cow, who did look healthy, was obvious. The atmosphere at the market was calm and overall the animals were handled well. During loading we observed a tail of a cow being twisted. The person in question was open to help with loading and in that way we could remark on the incident. Later that day we were invited to a board meeting, which was attended by one of our inspectors. We experience the collaboration with the board as open and positive. We would like to work towards enough faith to make it possible to also visit this market without having to give 24-hour prior notice of our intention to come.