United Kingdom

Objective Pain Assessment in Donkeys – scale construction

Citation

M. C. VanDierendonck, Faith A. Burden, Karen Rickards, J. P. A. M. van Loon. Objective Pain Assessment in Donkeys – scale construction. Presented at British Equine Veterinary Association Congress 2018.

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Date presented: 
Thursday 13 September 2018
Abstract

Background: Objective recognition of pain in horses has been studied extensively, however studies on objective pain assessment in donkeys are limited, and the available scales are not validated. Objectives: This study describes scale construction and clinical applicability of a Composite Pain Scale (do-CPS) and a Facial Assessment of Pain scale (do-FAP) for acute pain in donkeys. Study design: observational. Methods: The study included 159 adult donkeys (n = 44 patients, n = 115 control donkeys) which were directly observed at The Donkey Sanctuary. Patients were presented with lameness (24), colic (7), head related pain (7) or post-operative pain (6). Based on equine scales specific potential elements and scores for donkeys were developed in a pilot study. The observers were not involved in donkeys’ clinical management. For each animal, the score of each element in both scales was assessed by two groups of independent observers. When applicable the patients were followed over time, once or twice daily. Patients and control groups were compared by Mann Whitney-U-tests. Results: The inter-observer reliability was strong for do-CPS (R2 = 0.95, p<0.001) and good for do-FAP (R2 = 0.77, p<0.001). Patients had significantly higher pain scores, compared to control donkeys (p<0.001 for both do-FAP and do-CPS). Sensitivity overall for the do-CPS (73%), do-FAP (68%), and specificity do-CPS (99%), do-FAP (75%) were good. Sensitivity and specificity for “lameness” were strong in do-CPS (92% and 100%, respectively). Sensitivity and specificity for “colic” were strong for both do-CPS (71% and 100%, respectively), do-FAP (95% and 79%, respectively). Main limitations: Observers could not be masked to the patients’ condition. More patients are needed with painful conditions other than lameness. These scales will be validated in a planned follow-up research. Conclusions: Objective pain assessment in donkeys is possible and may support objective evaluation of treatment of donkeys with acute pain.

The development of guidelines to improve dairy donkey management and welfare

Citation

Francesca Dai, Emanueala Dalla Costa, Faith A. Burden, Andrew Judge, Michela Minero. September 2018. The development of guidelines to improve dairy donkey management and welfare. Italian Journal of Animal Science.

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Publication date: 
11 September 2018
Abstract

Donkey milk is a valuable product for babies suffering from multiple-allergies and cosmetic production; therefore, new dairy donkey farms are opening around Europe. Little information is available for farmers on sustainable production of donkey milk, including animal welfare, milk production, and processing. Targeted dissemination of information on appropriate animal management would assist dairy donkey farmers in preventing welfare problems. This research project aims to develop guidelines on good practice principles for sustainable donkey milk production. Different steps were followed to develop the guidelines:
1. identification of key issues for dairy donkey welfare, analysing the results of previous project and the available scientific literature;
2. systematic review research to select promising solutions for each issue included in the guidelines;
3. stakeholder consultation, in order to increase scientific soundness and to enhance their acceptability throughout the sector;
4. guidelines drafting and revisions by stakeholders;
5. guidelines launch.
The guidelines ‘Dairy donkeys: good practice principles for sustainable donkey milk production’ were launched in December 2017. They include suggestions derived from scientific literature and/or reported by internationally recognised experts. The guidelines provide clear and helpful advice on good animal management practices for anyone interested in donkey milk production. They comprise the following chapters: ‘Responsibilities’, ‘Feed and water’, ‘Housing and Management’, ‘Donkey health care’, ‘Humane killing’, ‘Appropriate behaviour’, and ‘Milking procedures’. The guidelines, translated in different languages (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Greek and Chinese Mandarin) are freely available online.
The guidelines “Dairy donkeys: good practice principles for sustainable donkey milk production” are freely available online in six languages
The guidelines provide clear and helpful advice on good animal management practices for anyone interested in donkey milk production
The guidelines include suggestions derived from scientific literature and/or reported by internationally recognised experts

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'A journey of discovery' - the role of the donkey in facilitated learning programmes

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Date presented: 
Thursday 26 April 2018
Abstract

The Donkey Sanctuary has been providing Donkey Assisted Therapy in locations across the UK since the mid 1970’s. The Donkey Assisted Therapy programme aims to improve the lives of both the donkeys we provide sanctuary for, as well as children and adults who visit our centres for support, learning, fun and therapy.
Recently we have started to advance the way in which our centres run, to ensure that we can offer our services to a diverse array of users whilst maintaining the highest possible welfare standards for our donkeys. The change in working practices has seen us decreasing the amount of Therapeutic Riding Programmes offered, and increase Donkey Facilitated Learning (DFL) sessions. Thus opening up our service to a wider range of ages and abilities.
Since starting this journey of change we have found a positive impact on the progression of service users, the development of new user groups, and the welfare of the donkeys involved in the programme. Service users work through a programme of life skills learning which facilitates the development of psychosocial skills. Using Qualitative Behavioural Assessments donkeys have shown an increase in relaxed behaviours, and a decrease in anxious body language since the change in services offered.
Presented as a talk.

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Shelter-seeking behaviour in domestic donkeys and horses in a temperate climate

Citation

Britta Osthaus, Leanne Proops, Sarah Long, Nikki Bell, Faith A. Burden. July 2018. Shelter-seeking behaviour in domestic donkeys and horses in a temperate climate. Presented at 52nd Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology. 58.

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Date presented: 
Tuesday 31 July 2018
Abstract

Donkeys and horses differ substantially in their evolutionary history, physiology, behaviour and husbandry needs. Donkeys are often kept in climates that are colder and wetter than those they are adapted to and therefore may suffer impaired welfare unless sufficient protection from the elements is provided. We compared the shelter-seeking behaviours of donkeys and horses in relation to temperature, precipitation, wind speed and insect density. Our study collected 13,612 day-time data points (location of each animal, their activity such as feeding, resting, moving, etc., and insect-related behaviours) from 75 donkeys and 65 horses (unclipped and un-rugged) with free access to man-made and natural shelters between September 2015 and December 2016 in the South-West of the UK. Each animal was observed at least once a week, with an average of 65 observations per individual overall. Even though the UK climate is quite mild (1 to 33 degrees Celsius in our sample), the preliminary results showed clear differences in the shelter seeking behaviour between donkeys and horses. Overall donkeys were observed far more often inside their shelters than horses (χ2(1)=1,783.1, P<0.001). They particularly sought shelter when it was raining: there was a 54.4%-point increase (35 to 89.4%) in the proportions of donkeys sheltering in rainy conditions, in comparison to a 14.5%-point increase in horses (9.6 to 24.1%). Results of binary logistic regressions indicated that there was a significant association between species, precipitation and shelter-seeking behaviour (χ2(3)=2,750.5, P<0.001). Horses sought shelter more frequently when it got hotter, whereas donkeys sought shelter more often in colder weather (χ2(3)=2,667.3, P<0.001). The wind speed (range 0 to 8 m/s – calm to moderate breeze) had an effect on location choice, and this again differed significantly between donkeys and horses (χ2(3)=1,946.5, P<0.001). In a moderate breeze, donkeys tended to seek shelter whereas horses moved outside. The insect-related behaviours were closely related to temperature and wind speeds. The donkeys’ shelter-seeking behaviour strongly suggests that in temperate climates they should always have access to shelters that provide sufficient protection from the environment.

Proceedings
Number of pages: 
58
ISBN (13-digit): 
978-90-8686-322-8
Publication date: 
18 July 2018

Hair coat properties of donkeys, mules and horses in a temperate climate

Citation

Britta Osthaus, Leanne Proops, Sarah Long, Nikki Bell, Kristin Hayday, Faith A. Burden. April 2018. Hair coat properties of donkeys, mules and horses in a temperate climate. Equine Veterinary Journal. 50:3. 339-342.

Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
6 April 2018
Volume: 
50
Issue: 
3
Page numbers: 
339-342
DOI number: 
10.1111/evj.12775
Abstract

Background: There are clear differences between donkeys and horses in their evolutionary history, physiology, behaviour and husbandry needs.
Donkeys are often kept in climates that they are not adapted to and as such may suffer impaired welfare unless protection from the elements is
provided.
Objectives: To compare some of the hair coat properties of donkeys, mules and horses living outside, throughout the year, in the temperate climate of
the UK.
Study design: Longitudinal study.
Methods: Hair samples were taken from 42 animals: 18 donkeys (4 females, 14 males), 16 horses (6 females, 10 males) and eight mules (5 females, 3
males), in March, June, September and December. The weight, length and width of hair were measured, across the four seasons, as indicators of the
hair coat insulation properties.
Results: Donkeys’ hair coats do not significantly differ across the seasons. All three measurements of the insulation properties of the hair samples
indicate that donkeys do not grow a winter coat and that their hair coat was significantly lighter, shorter and thinner than that of horses and mules in
winter. In contrast, the hair coats of horses changed significantly between seasons, growing thicker in winter.
Main limitations: The measurements cover only a limited range of features that contribute to the thermoregulation of an animal. Further research is
needed to assess shelter preferences by behavioural measures, and absolute heat loss via thermoimaging.
Conclusions: Donkeys, and to a lesser extent mules, appear not to be as adapted to colder, wet climates as horses, and may therefore require
additional protection from the elements, such as access to a wind and waterproof shelter, in order for their welfare needs to be met.
First published online 20th October 2017.

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Assessing quality of life and welfare of donkeys in the UK

Citation

Alexandra K. Thiemann, Elena Barrio, Karen Rickards, Anna Harrison. July 2018. Assessing quality of life and welfare of donkeys in the UK. In Practice. 40. 249-257.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
12 July 2018
Journal: 
In Practice
Volume: 
40
Page numbers: 
249-257
DOI number: 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/inp.k2584
Abstract

The role of donkeys in the UK and Europe has changed over the past 40 years, and is still changing – these equids are primarily used as companions, but also for tourism, therapy and increasingly for milk production. When it comes to the end of their lives and issues surrounding equine end-of-life care, a recent study highlighted that many donkey owners rely on their vet to provide them with information on quality of life (QOL) assessment, geriatric care and euthanasia planning. This article aims to assist veterinary surgeons in assessing donkey welfare and helping owners decide how to improve QOL or whether an end-point has been reached and euthanasia is indicated.

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Parasite prevalence in donkeys in the UK

Citation

Elena Barrio, FJ Vasquez, A Muniesa, I de Blas. Parasite prevalence in donkeys in the UK. Presented at VII Congreso AVEE.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Friday 9 March 2018
Event name: 
VII Congreso AVEE
Abstract

The Donkey Sanctuary (TDS) is a British charitable organisation based in Sidmouth, Devon, England, which’s mission is to transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide through greater understanding, collaboration and support, and by promoting lasting, mutually life-enhancing relationships. The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 and registered as a charity in 1973 by Dr Elizabeth Svendsen. TDS has a total of seven farms in the UK including a reception farm for new arrivals where the study is based, a laboratory, pathologist and an specialized hospital. TDS currently looks after around 2.600 animals (in a total estimated UK census of 10.000 animals).
Animals are admitted into a quarantine Farm where they spend a minimun of 6 weeks to assess their health status including full coprological study. Donkey are relinquished or rescued by the charity and arrive from different origins: directly from a private owner, another organitation or hospital or one of the charity’s holding base located in different parts of the country. This animals wopuld have been previosly admitted into those centres and taken there due to biosecirity reasons or becuase transport could be in detriment of their health at that time. Animals that need urgent veterinary treatment would be sent to the closest equine hospital for treatment until consider fit to be transported.
Management of hundreds of animals and their pasture can be challenging from the parasitological point of view, especially if we tend into consideration that the majority of donkeys unlike horses would be asyntomathic despite having high parasite burdens. It is rare for donkeys to show signs such as diaorrhea, weight loss or a poor body condition that are more commonly found in the horse.

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Efficacy of two endectocides (moxidectin and ivermectin)against Strongylus spp. parasites in UK donkeys

Citation
Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Friday 9 March 2018
Event name: 
VII Congreso AVEE
Abstract

The Donkey Sanctuary is a British charitable organisation based in Sidmouth, Devon, England, which’s mission is to transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide through greater understanding, collaboration and support, and by promoting lasting, mutually life-enhancing relationships. The Donkey Sanctuary has a total of seven farms in the UK including a reception farm for new arrivals (quarantine) where the study is based. The relinquished and rescued donkeys by TDS can arrive to the quarantine farm from different origins, for that reason, it is important to follow a health control program on arrival which includes a full coprological exam; this will determine the need of using an specific worming protocol. One of the most prevalent parasites is Strongylus spp. and it is very common to find animals with a moderate egg count who are asymtomathyc. The general recommendation is to treat donkeys with an egg count of 300 to 400 eggs per gram (The two antihelmintics used during the isolation period were two endectocides: moxidectin (Equest, 0,4 mg/Kg) and ivermectin (Eqvalan, 0,2 mg/Kg).

The worming protocol used for those animals that have been considered healthy on arrival and that they did not have received a recent antihelmintic treatment was to recieve an initial treatment with Moxidectin with a quarantine period of 48h without access to pasture. Those animals that have recieved a recent worming treatment( within the last 6 weeks) with ivermectin or moxidectin, they were only treated if the faecal egg count was higher than 50 epg or a different type of parasite was found (for example pulmonary nematodes). No other actions were taken in those animals with Strongylus spp. after the first faecal egg count results if they had been treated with moxidectin, otherwise the previous described protocol had been followed

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Preliminary investigation into relationships between donkey and horse skull morphology and brain morphology

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Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Thursday 23 November 2017
Abstract

All horses and donkeys belong to the genus Equus but anatomical and behavioural differences exist among species. Equus caballus displays distinctive conformational attributes among breeds provisionally related to ganglion cell distribution and skull and brain morphology. Equus asinus shows less variation in skull shape, and little is known about brain organisation. The current research compared skull and brain morphology between horses and donkeys. Skulls of Equus caballus, primarily of Standardbred type (N=14) and Equus asinus (N=16), were obtained postmortem. All animals had been humanely euthanised for reasons unrelated to this study. Heads were sectioned sagitally along the midline and photographed for measurement of various skull structures using Image J software. Measurements included: skull index (SI)=zygomatic width*100/skull length; cranial index (CI)=cranial width*100/cranial length; nasal index (NI)=zygomatic width*100/nasal length; cranial profile index (CPI)=rectangular area bordered by an 80mm line from orbital notch and occiput; nasal profile index (NPI)= rectangular area bordered by 80mm line from orbital notch and tip of nasal bone; olfactory lobe area (OLA); OL pitch [angle between hard palate and the OL axis]; brain pitch [angle between longitudinal axis of the cerebral hemispheres and the hard palate]; and whorl location (WL) [distance of OL from the level of the forehead whorl]. A General Linear Model determined the main effect of species with Sidak’s multiple comparisons of species’ differences among the various measurements. Donkeys had shorter heads (cranial lengths) than horses (19.7±2.5 vs 23.6±1.4cm respectively; F1,23=51.49, P<0.0002). Donkeys also had smaller cranial widths (13±3.4cm; F1,17=15.91, P<0.001) and mandibular depths (24±2.6cm; F1,21=13.05, P<0.002) than horses (19±0.8 and 27.2±1.1cm, respectively). There was no species difference in SI, ZI, or NI (P>0.40), but donkeys tended to have a smaller CI than horses (F1,17=3.59, P<0.08). Similarly, donkeys had a smaller CPI than horses (F1,21=7.54, P<0.034), but there was no difference in NPI (F1,21=0.05, P>0.83). Donkeys also had a smaller OLA than horses (1.4±0.3 vs 2.3±1.3cm2 respectively; F1,13=4.96, P<0.05) although there was no difference in brain pitch (F1,23=0.69, P>0.43). The greatest difference was seen in WL, which corresponded to the level of the OL in horses, but was extremely rostral in donkeys (F1,21=24.29, P<0.0001). These results show clear differentiation in skull morphology between horses and donkeys which may be linked to behaviour. This may be useful in validating different approaches in the training and management of horses versus donkeys.

Lay person message: Horses demonstrate specific behaviours which may be associated with skull shape, although nothing is known about this relationship in donkeys. This pilot study has shown that donkeys have smaller brain cases and olfactory lobes than Standardbred horses. Donkeys’ facial whorls are located lower down the face while horses’ are in close proximity to the brain’s olfactory lobe. Clarifying differences between horses and donkeys is crucial to understanding species-specific behavioural responses and providing appropriate management and training practices.

P-glycoproteins play a role in ivermectin resistance in cyathostomins

Citation

Laura Peachey, Gina L. Pinchbeck, Jacqui. B. Matthews, Faith A. Burden, A. Lespine, G. von Samson-Himmelstjerna, J. Krucken, Jane Hodgkinson. October 2017. P-glycoproteins play a role in ivermectin resistance in cyathostomins. International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance. 7:3.

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Publication date: 
25 October 2017
Volume: 
7
Issue: 
3
Abstract

Anthelmintic resistance is a global problem that threatens sustainable control of the equine gastrointestinal cyathostomins (Phylum Nematoda; Superfamily Strongyloidea). Of the three novel anthelmintic classes that have reached the veterinary market in the last decade, none are currently licenced in horses, hence current control regimens focus on prolonging the useful lifespan of licenced anthelmintics. This approach would be facilitated by knowledge of the resistance mechanisms to the most widely used anthelmintics, the macrocyclic lactones (ML). There are no data regarding resistance mechanisms to MLs in cyathostomins, although in other parasitic nematodes, the ABC transporters, P-glycoproteins (P-gps), have been implicated in playing an important role. Here, we tested the hypothesis that P-gps are, at least in part, responsible for reduced sensitivity to the ML ivermectin (IVM) in cyathostomins; first, by measuring transcript levels of pgp-9 in IVM resistant versus IVM sensitive third stage larvae (L3) pre-and post-IVM exposure in vitro. We then tested the effect of a range of P-gp inhibitors on the effect of IVM against the same populations of L3 using the in vitro larval development test (LDT) and larval migration inhibition test (LMIT). We demonstrated that, not only was pgp-9 transcription significantly increased in IVM resistant compared to IVM sensitive L3 after anthelmintic exposure (p < 0.001), but inhibition of P-gp activity significantly increased sensitivity of the larvae to IVM in vitro, an effect only observed in the IVM resistant larvae in the LMIT. These data strongly implicate a role for P-gps in IVM resistance in cyathostomins. Importantly, this raises the possibility that P-gp inhibitor-IVM combination treatments might be used in vivo to increase the effectiveness of IVM against cyathostomins in Equidae.

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