Ensuring the welfare of the farmed donkey for the production of milk: an analysis of the legislation


F. Dai, G. Segati, E. Dalla Costa, Faith A. Burden, Andrew Judge, E. Canali, Michela Minero. April 2017. Ensuring the welfare of the farmed donkey for the production of milk: an analysis of the legislation. Large Animal Review. 23. 59-64.

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Publication date: 
2 April 2017
Large Animal Review
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Donkey’s milk is a valuable product for paediatric patients with
allergy to cow milk proteins. As the donkey milk qualifies as
a product intended primarily for consumers with special needs,
it should be of good quality and therefore the donkeys must
enjoy good health and welfare.
To better understand how dairy donkeys’ welfare is assured around
Europe, an analysis of EU, Italian and Regional Legislation about
welfare of donkeys used to produce milk was conducted.
According to 98/58/EC Directive, donkeys kept for milk/meat
production should be considered as farm animals. This Directive,
without being species-specific, lays down minimum
standards for the protection of animals bred or kept for farming
European Regulation 37/2010 and Italian Dlgs 193/2006 report
the rules on the use of veterinary drugs. A veterinarian must
prescribe pharmacologically active substances and commend
an appropriate withdrawal period to ensure that food derived
from treated animals does not contain residues harmful to consumers.
No specific information regarding drugs for dairy
donkeys is reported and it is unclear what happens in reality
when a lactating jenny needs treatment.
Three Italian Regions (Piemonte, Emilia Romagna and Veneto)
have specific regulations about donkey milk production. The
“D.D. 461 17/06/2013”, “Circolare 17 05/10/2005” and “ALLEGATO
A Dgr 513 03/04/2012” report requirements for milk production
to guarantee adequate food safety and generically suggest
that donkeys should be kept in good welfare conditions.
In addition, Italian guidelines “Codice per la Tutela e la Gestione
degli Equidi” provides essential criteria for proper management
of equines, according to good practices and ethical behaviour;
they give suggestions about nutrition and water provision, stable
management, training, identification documents, transport,
euthanasia, education of farmers.
Our work highlights that protecting welfare of donkeys used
to produce milk may be affected by a lack of specific legislation.
As a first step, the development of specific guidelines would
help to improve their welfare.

Management practices and milk production in dairy donkey farms distributed over the Italian territory


Francesca Dar, Giulia Segati, Emanueala Dalla Costa, Faith A. Burden, Andrew Judge, Michela Minero. April 2017. Management practices and milk production in dairy donkey farms distributed over the Italian territory. Macedonian Veterinary Review. 40:2. 1-4.

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Publication date: 
6 April 2017
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Limited information is available about the actual management characteristics of dairy donkeys in Southern Europe. The aim of the present study is to describe animal management of dairy donkey farms in Italy. Twelve farmers were asked to answer a questionnaire on the management of their animals and their farms distributed over the Italian territory. Six farms grouped their animals in paddocks according to the production characteristics (e.g. lactating, dry, stallions); three farms housed the stallions in single boxes. Most of the visited farms were family run and the number of animals cared for by a single person varied from five to 103 animals. All the farms but one performed mechanical milking with a modified goat milkmaid.Vaccinations were regularly performed only on two farms. All the foals received colostrum and suckled from their own mothers. Foals were nursed by their mother until 6-12 months old. During the separation period before milking, foals were usually (83%) housed in paddocks near their mothers with the possibility of visual and/or tactile contact, however such separations could be for up to 12 hours (17%). Even though the assessed sample was small, considerable differences were seen between farms, likely due to lack of uniform information available for the farmers. The adoption of scientific based procedures is suggested in order to improve both animal welfare and milk quality.

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Epidemiologic analysis of a sarcoid outbreak involving 12 of 111 donkeys in Northern Italy


Hans Abel-Reichwald, Edmund K Hainisch, Sophie Zahalka, Annunziata Corteggio, Giuseppe Borzacchiello, Barbara Massa, Luca Merlone, Lubna Nasir, Faith A. Burden, Sabine Brandt. October 2016. Epidemiologic analysis of a sarcoid outbreak involving 12 of 111 donkeys in Northern Italy. Veterinary Microbiology. 196. 85-92.

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Publication date: 
15 October 2016
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Equine sarcoids develop upon bovine papillomavirus type 1 or 2 (BPV1, BPV2) infection in conjunction with trauma and represent the most common tumour disease in horses and other equids, including donkeys. In face of a sarcoid outbreak involving 12 of 111 donkeys and mules at the ‘Rifugio degli Asinelli’, a subsidiary charity organization of The Donkey Sanctuary, non-invasively collected sample material including crusts, dandruff, swabs and hair roots was collected from sarcoid-affected and 26 healthy donkeys, as well as dandruff from a grooming kit and tabanids caught from or in the vicinity of sarcoid patients. In addition five previously collected sarcoids stored in formalin were provided.

DNA isolated from collected material was tested for the presence of the BPV1/2 E5 oncogene using PCR. Positive samples were further analysed by E2/E4 and LCR PCR and amplicon sequencing to determine a possible common source of infection via comparative alignment of intralesional BPV1/2 gene variants. IC/PCR was used to assess sample aliquots for the presence of BPV1/2 virions, and IHC to analyse five tumours for BPV1 E5 and L1 protein expression.

All sarcoid-affected donkeys, two of 55 tabanids and dandruff from a curry comb tested positive for BPV1/2 E5, yet negative by IC/PCR. Healthy animals were BPV1/2-free. IHC revealed different levels of intralesional E5 and L1 expression. A series of BPV1 E5, E2, and LCR variants and BPV2 E5 were detected from donkeys, indicating that they had accidently developed sarcoids at about the same time rather than having acquired disease from each other.

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Clinical trial on the efficacy of moxidectin oral gel formulation on donkeys naturally infected by cyathostominae

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Date presented: 
Saturday 7 February 2015

Donkeys and horses share several parasites including the small strongyles, Cyathostominae. Moxidectin (MOX), a compound of macrocyclic lactones, has a wide range of ecto and endoparasitic activity in many species. For horses, MOX is available as oral gel formulation that provides excellent and long-lasting efficacy against nematodes such as large and small strongyles. There is a paucity of data available on the efficacy of anthelmintics used in donkeys (Veneziano et al., 2011). Therapeutics, such as antiparasitic compounds, are often administered to donkeys on the basis of dosage and intervals recommended for horses, because very few drugs have donkey-specific label indications (Grosenbaugh et al., 2011). The objective of the present study was to evaluate the field efficacy and Egg Reappearance Period (ERP) of MOX oral gel up to 84 days at horse dose against natural infection of Cyathostominae in donkeys.

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