An intense collaboration with the institute for agriculture is ongoing. We are looking for a screening of the animals on farm level.
To further improve animal welfare:
- we have preventively installed an extra manual anesthetic plunger.
- camera surveillance has been further increased and supervision happens more frequently.
- the anesthetic installation was thoroughly inspected.
We are continuously looking for new and better ways to improve animal welfare. This is not only the case out of respect for animals, but also because we are convinced that better animal welfare also means better taste.
We also invest in health management. For example, we send our findings from the slaughter line back to the farmers.
Our specifications include a balanced diet, adjusted to the age of the animals, and we monitor compliance with this diet. Antibiotics can only be used to allow animals to recover from illnesses, never as a preventive measure. To check for possible antibiotic residues, a quick test is done on each batch of pigs. This test, which is performed on a meat sample, screens for the 4 largest antibiotic groups, and the result is available within 15 minutes.
However, Westvlees is now going one step further. To avoid transporting pigs that are not antibiotic-free, a saliva test will be performed at the pig supplier’s premises. In the coming months, Westvlees will distribute these tests to its suppliers. The suppliers receive a rope to hang up in their stalls. After between 15 and 30 minutes, these ropes will be removed and sent back to Westvlees. On the basis of the saliva filtered out from these ropes, we can check whether there are antibiotics present. The aim is for this new test to be operational on all sites at the end of April. Thus, we will know that the pigs are antibiotic-free before they are put onto the trucks.
The “Taste & Welfare Guaranteed” quality label reflects our dedication to animal welfare. Along with experts from Flemish universities, our employees are trained to transport and slaughter animals in optimal circumstances. We reduce pigs’ stress levels with soft lighting in the stalls, noise reduction and drinking nipples. The animals stay in a small, familiar group in a clean, natural environment where they have sufficient room to move. Webcams are installed at crucial points on each site. The availability of these webcams has enabled us to set up a control room. The video images can be easily observed on each site, but the control room works across all sites. Belgian Pork Group has at least three people on each site who are trained as animal welfare officers or an equivalent. These people monitor the webcam images in turns. If discrepancies or violations are observed, immediate action can be taken.
Prevention against the african swine fever
Take a look at the prevention video that has been published by the EFSA..