I have shared pictures and information on my social media about the Meat The Victims action in Boxtel. The opposing side is currently putting a lot of misinformation and accusations out in the world, which are causing me to feel the need to write a statement with factual information on this action. I want to express explicitly that the conditions in this specific farm have been called “far above European norms” by a spokesperson.

Protection

Beginning at the beginning, I can explain why it is completely unrealistic that the pigs would be contaminated or sickened by our presence. We entered the stables with only the necessary equipment. On top of our clothing, of which we were sure was clean and not worn around other animals, we wore a bioprotective suit. We desinfected our shoes and cleaned our equipment with desinfective wipes. We had purchased these products at a farm store and was of the highest quality, specifically for farm use.

In the ten hours we were present in the stables, we have not had any drink or food. Activists that connected with sick or dead pig(let)s made sure they did not get into contact with other individuals. By the way: The police went in for a while after we left, not even wiping their soles or washing their hands.

Of course it would be somewhat odd if pigs would die with minimal and desinfected human contact. The pigs had to lie in their own feces, with infected woulds and sometimes with sick and possibly contagious piglets. In the medicine cabinet we found medication that had passed it’s use-by date in 2013, there was poop and blood splatter over the walls and floors & there were bodies of piglets in the hallway and in the stables with the moms. Inside the stables we started to have issues with our respiratory system and our eyes, because of all of the dust and the pungent smell of excrement and ammonia.

 

Stress

A lot of people are claiming the pigs had to endure too much stress during our visit. I hope the following imagery can illustrate my story. A lot of pigs kept sleeping, almost all piglets (except the ones too sick to stand on their own legs) kept drinking from their mothers, play-fight with each other and came towards the activists showing interest. They came up to us while sniffing and looking for love.

Pigs are bizarrely intelligent creatures. I have observed the behavior of the piglets inside the stables for a while, but with tears in my eyes I could not come to any other conclusion than thatt the piglets were just pink puppies. They were ecstatic they were finally getting attention and could finally feel some love.

There was a piglet we found spasming on the floor. Activists took her on their laps and cuddled and calmed her down. Our vet came to the conclusion she had meningitis and was left for dead. Her back had a mark for extermination on it. Rosie, only known as a number to the farmer, has only known warmth and love in her final hours. She has been put down by a vet that came in right after us to kill all the sick piglets.

The only stress the pigs had to endure was, for example, the stress of too little stimuli. This is illustrated by the fact the pigs were gnawing on the steel in their cages. Piglets were tipping over other piglets to feed (which is of course impossible), because they were still in need of their moms. All these behaviors and the story I explained above are clearly visible in the following footage.

The conditions of the farm

The looks the moms gave us are haunting me to this day. They looked beaten, helpless and like they had given up all hope. That wasn’t all that surprising, considering they were stuck in steel constructions. Their bellies formed around the steel pipes and their legs were sticking out. Every once in a while they would stand up, but they could not take a single step; The only option was laying down again. This caused us to have to witness piglets getting harmed multiple times and even dying in front of us, because the moms collapsed through their tired legs while the piglets were feeding underneath them.

Papers were strung up above the stables with their birth dates, date they were due and when their piglets were born. Some of these moms had to endure six inseminations and had been standing in the steel cages for three years while their children were dying or taken away in front of their eyes. There were many more piglets than nipples, so there were fights and moms were trampled in the piglets’ attempt to get a hold of one of the nipples.

There was a stable with piglets of a few days old, umbilical cord still attached to their bellies. The piglets also had individuals who were crippled and sick babies that had markings on their back (like they do with sick trees) to be killed soon. Other, a bit ‘older’ piglets were placed collectively in somewhat bigger pens. These were the most curious, were obviously hungry for attention and stimuli and were chewing and suckling on the steel of their feeding trough & each other’s tails, non-functioning nipples and ears. They were taken from their moms, but clearly still missed her. Piglets destined for meat production average about five to six months old before they get sent to be slaughtered.

Some sick piglets were tossed aside to die a slow death without any food or drink. Others stumbled or were laying defeated next to their brothers, sisters and moms in their cage. Moms were forced to sit in their prison and watch the bodies of their dead babies in fron of them in their cage. I will never forget crossing eyes with a piglet who noticed me and then stumbled towards me, while falling and getting up again repeatedly, to sniff my hand and ask for some petting.

Communication during the action

Our only demand to end the sit-in was for the media to be able to enter the stables to record. Later we also tried to negotiate for taking sick piglets outside, caring for them and bringing them to a sanctuary. I read that opposing people are claiming we “took the farmer and his wife hostage”, but the farmer actually left the farm during our sit-in. This, accompanied by the police denying communication has rendered our negotiation useless. We were asked to bring sick piglets to the door, got told we had to pick only one or had to accept nothing, made the heartwrenching decision to pick a piglet with rotting ears (whom had the highest chance of survival) and ended up hearing we were never going to be able to rescue any piglets after all.

The farmer cut off the water supply to the piglets during the action. The faucets in the hallway were still operating and we had to deploy some of our activists as a ‘waterteam’ to fill buckets with water to bring to the pigs. The death of these individuals was apparently worth it to the farmer in order to teach us a lesson and was above all picked over access to the farm for the media.

I don’t think I have to explain the actions of the protesting, property destroying, agressive farmers; Since they’ve been all over the news. For those who did not see the Dutch press: They totaled activists’ cars, were throwing meat and rocks at both people and cars, violently charged at activists with weapons and threatened people with tractors. I don’t want to take too long elaborating on that one, but I want to ask you the following: Ask yourself if this would have happened had we decided to sit in a corn field. Ask yourself why we are not getting a major uprising of farmers distancing themselves from the abominable conditions in this farm and responding in horror at the footage instead of defending the farmer. Ask yourself how the conditions in other stables have to be if the life these animals have to lead in this living hell are “far above European standard”…

 

And most importantly ask yourself why the farmer has chosen the sit-in that took ten hours, violence against activists, destroying of cars, throwing of rocks, large-scale police action and his animals dying of dehydration over access to the stables to the media.

UPDATE 19:19, MAY 16th 2019: There is information, coming from the organization, that claims the meat coming from this farm has a animal welfare ‘Better Living seal’. Dutch animal protection services are denying this at this moment. There is a lot very unclear about who exactly owns the stables and I am still looking for the source of this information. As soon as I know more I will update the page as soon as possible.