On Friday while driving on the A2 in the Netherlands, an EonA inspector got stuck in major traffic. The highway was closed due to a massive fire that broke out on a pig factory located right beside the highway. Due to asbestos being released in the air, no one was allowed to get close. The following day Eyes on Animals visited the premise. We heard that 1300 sows, piglets and fattening pigs died. We received different information regarding whether some animals survived it, and what measures were taken for their welfare (some say all died, others say that some survived and are awaiting inspection by the veterinarian).
Laws are in place to ensure that animals have a minimum amount of space, lighting, feed and fresh water. But farm animals are more complicated than this; they have strong desires to express their natural behaviours and range of emotions. These are largely restricted on most industrial farms, leading to mental suffering such as boredom and extreme frustration. Another welfare issue common on farms is the animal health and the quality of the environment. The barn should be clean from parasites and drafts, and sick and injured animals need to be separated and treated in a timely manner. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Eyes on Animals regularly visits farms, both large and small, free-range and industrial, to check on the general condition of the animals and the housing environment. We compare what we observe with the requirements set in the national and EU regulations. We discuss with farmers if improvements are needed and how they can be achieved.