19-05-2022

Ekro invests in a roof for enhanced welfare

Veal processing companies such as Ekro in Apeldoorn have an important place in the VanDrie Group chain. It is precisely at this stage of the chain that optimal animal welfare and as little stress as possible are essential. Especially during hot periods.


Veal processing companies such as Ekro in Apeldoorn have an important place in the VanDrie Group chain. It is precisely at this stage of the chain that optimal animal welfare and as little stress as possible are essential. Especially during hot periods like today. Ekro therefore invested in a large roof in early May - well before the summer - right in front of the slaughterhouse receiving pen. "We certainly didn’t just put up a 'tent'. It is an important investment in greater welfare. It will make things cooler on hot days, and it will also provide extra shelter during winter on windy days," explain Animal Welfare Officers Mario Wijngaarden and Nick Rutenfrans and Slaughterhouse Manager Eef Bouman.

Preparing for hotter summers
The white roof is impossible to miss on the large site behind Ekro's receiving pen. It is indeed not a 'tent'. The roof - which has been in use for almost two weeks now - has a concrete foundation and steel piles. The roof is made of canvas, and the sides of hard plastic. The roof - with an 8-metre high top - is about 35 metres long, and can easily accommodate five extra-long trucks unloading calves. "It is a significant improvement," says Bouman. "The calves are now in the shade at all times during unloading." With this investment, Ekro is explicitly preparing for increasingly hot summers. Wijngaarden can see that the roof has already borne fruit in the first few weeks. "The calves are more relaxed because the sides of the enclosure are screened off. The animals cannot see any movement around them as they walk towards the receiving pen."

Another plus is ventilation. The top is partly open, and there are also ventilation holes in the sides. Even more important is the excellent air inflow. The long roof helps the air to flow better into the receiving pen. Rutenfrans: "We see in practice that it is now cooler in the receiving pen due to the roof." Wijngaarden sees an additional benefit. The roof prevents sunlight from reaching the rear of the receiving pen. "That reduces stress among calves. The calves now move around a bit more smoothly, which helps them keep calm.

Ekro deliberately opted for a spacious roof in order to be able to accommodate five large trucks. A clever move in case planning unexpectedly turns out differently. "If a truck does end up having to wait, there is always plenty of shade," says Bouman.

Adjustments with the hot-weather protocol
The new roof is a great example of the ways in which Ekro is seeking to further improve welfare. However, the company aims to take responsibility in other areas as well. The hot weather protocol is just one example of this. This protocol goes into effect from 27 degrees at VanDrie Group - and therefore Ekro.

We adjust our planning when the weather gets hot. This kind of customisation is sometimes difficult, but animal welfare is our top priority. - Mario Wijngaarden

This includes a 10% reduction in the number of calves that can be transported and the option to bring forward transport times. "We always keep a close eye on the temperature using the official KNMI app. We adjust our planning when the weather gets hot. This kind of customisation is sometimes difficult, but animal welfare is our top priority," says Wijngaarden. "A matter of priority."

Ekro is also always on the lookout for possible improvements in the receiving pen. For example, during extreme weather conditions, the farm can keep additional calves in the receiving pen instead of in the truck. "We can also give calves more square metres if they have to remain in the stable for longer in the event of unforeseen circumstances," concludes Bouman.



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