donkey

Effects of management practices on the welfare of dairy donkeys and risk factors associated with signs of hoof neglect

Citation

Francesca Dai, Giulia Segati, Marta Brscic, Matteo Chincarini, Emanueala Dalla Costa, Lorenzo Ferrari, Faith A. Burden, Andrew Judge, Michela Minero. November 2017. Effects of management practices on the welfare of dairy donkeys and risk factors associated with signs of hoof neglect. Journal of Dairy Research.

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Publication date: 
10 November 2017
Abstract

This Research Paper aimed to investigate donkey welfare in dairy husbandry systems and to identify the potential factors affecting it at animal level. In 2015, twelve dairy donkey farms (19–170 donkeys per farm, mean = 55 ± 48), distributed throughout Italy, were visited. On each farm, the Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) welfare assessment protocol for donkeys was used by two trained assessors to evaluate the welfare of animals for a total of 257 donkeys assessed. The protocol includes animal-based indicators that were entered in a digitalised system. Prevalence of different scores at individual, farm and category level were calculated. Farmers were asked to fill out a questionnaire including information regarding the management of donkeys and their final destination. Answers to the questionnaire were then considered as effects in the risk factor analysis whereas the scores of the animal-based indicators were considered as response variables. Most of the donkeys (80·2%) enjoyed a good nutritional status (BCS = 3). 18·7% of donkeys showed signs of hoof neglect such as overgrowth and/or incorrect trimming (Min = 0% Max = 54·5%). Belonging to a given farm or production group influenced many of the welfare indicators. The absence of pasture affected the likelihood of having skin lesions, alopecia, low BCS scores and a less positive emotional state. Lack of routine veterinary visits (P < 0·001) and having neglected hooves (P < 0·001) affected the likelihood of being thin (BCS < 3). Belonging to specific production groups, lack of access to pasture and showing an avoidance reaction to an approaching human (AD) resulted in risk factors associated with a higher prevalence of signs of hoof neglect. Our results support the idea that lack of knowledge of proper donkey care among owners was behind many welfare issues found.
First published online.

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Endocardial Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumour with Features of a Benign Schwannoma in a Donkey

Citation

Georgios Paraschou, Alejandro Suarez-Bonnet, Vicky S. Grove, S. L. Priestnall. November 2017. Endocardial Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumour with Features of a Benign Schwannoma in a Donkey. Journal of Comparative Pathology. 157:4. 280-283.

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Publication date: 
1 November 2017
Volume: 
157
Issue: 
4
Page numbers: 
280-283
DOI number: 
10.1016
Abstract

A peripheral nerve sheath tumour, with features of a benign schwannoma and arising from the endocardium of the right ventricle, was found incidentally during routine post-mortem examination of a 28-year-old gelding donkey. Macroscopically, five round to oval, white to grey and red, firm masses, firmly attached to the endocardium were identified. Microscopically, the endocardium and adjacent subendocardium were infiltrated by a variably demarcated, non-encapsulated mesenchymal neoplasm with features of a benign schwannoma, including concurrent presence of Antoni A and Antoni B areas, nuclear palisading, neoplastic cells with enlarged bizarre nuclei (‘ancient change’) and the formation of Verocay-like bodies. Immunohistochemically, the tumour cells were variably strongly positive for expression of S100 and glial fibrillary acidic protein. This is the first cardiac tumour reported in a donkey and is macroscopically, histologically and immunohistochemically similar to endocardial schwannoma occurring in Wistar rats.

This article was published online prior to print.

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Training Compassionate Vets for Calmer Donkeys

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Date presented: 
Tuesday 3 October 2017
Abstract

INTRODUCTION
Working donkeys and mules often require veterinary intervention for a variety of clinical problems. It is crucial that vets, animal health professionals and other equine professionals have a sound knowledge of donkey and mule behaviour to enable them to assess the animals and provide treatment in a species-accurate, humane and compassionate way.
HANDLING TECHNIQUES AFFECT EQUINE WELFARE
The way in which donkeys and mules are handled can affect their welfare since quality of life is measured not only by physiological factors but also by emotional and affective states (1). Negative interactions can contribute to the development of fearful behavioural responses which can persist for a long time after the interaction takes place. Correct application of behaviour modification techniques can positively develop the human-animal bond and help the animal to remain calm during required veterinary procedures, often meaning that painful methods of restraint are not required. Simple techniques for approaching equines, taking rectal temperatures, using stethoscopes and appropriate restraint can, and should, be used to reduce stress for all aspects of a veterinary examination and treatment.
HUMAN BODY LANGUAGE
Correct approach to an equine patient is vital to minimise stress and to prevent a flight response. Equines are sensitive animals who can detect very subtle body language signals. The body language and behaviour of the veterinary surgeon and animal handler can influence the animal’s behaviour; approach with calm, relaxed body language and allow the animal the opportunity to investigate you.
A relaxed, calm approach:
• Rounded shoulders
• Relaxed muscle tone, gentle movements
• No direct eye contact
• Indirect approach from the animal’s shoulder
• Allowing time for the animal to investigate
PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Using a stethoscope
• Allow the animal the chance to have a look at your equipment
• Introduce the stethoscope to the animal’s body gradually, starting in an area that is not too sensitive
• Stroke or scratch the animal to provide reassurance as you work
Taking a rectal temperature
• Help the animal to relax by approaching steadily from the side
• Scratch the animal along his body and on either side of his tail to encourage relaxation
• Do some gentle lifts of the tail before lifting to insert the thermometer
LESS IS MORE
When considering methods of restraint for veterinary examination consider that often ‘less is more’. Distressed and fearful animals are more likely to display erratic behaviours and become more likely to cause injury to themselves or their handlers (2). If calm, consistent handling is not sufficient to keep an equine calm during examination, and restraint is required, the least invasive and minimally aversive restraint options, such as a head hold or the raising of one leg, should be attempted first.
Ear twitches should not be used on equines; a recent study (3) found a significant increase in sympathetic tone and salivary cortisol levels when an ear twitch is applied and it also led to the development of avoidance behaviour indicating the aversive-ness of this procedure. Equines can become sensitised to aversive events or procedures after very few exposures (4) therefore aversive procedures should be avoided wherever possible and stress experienced during veterinary procedures must be kept to an absolute minimum.

The above was presented as a poster

Donkey skin: the invisible fur trade

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Date presented: 
Wednesday 26 July 2017
Abstract

Increased levels of personal wealth in China is fuelling demand for luxury products including ejiao, a product made using donkey skin. A traditional medicine, ejiao’s popularity is largely due to its reported ‘anti-aging’ properties. Demand for donkey skins to produce ejiao is conservatively estimated at 4 million per year. This represents a significant proportion of the global donkey population of 44 million. China’s own donkey population has nearly halved in the last 20 years and entrepreneurs are now looking worldwide to satisfy a growing demand.

Despite their essential role in livelihoods and community resilience donkeys are largely invisible in livestock policies, livelihoods and humanitarian projects. It is therefore unsurprising that the emerging trade in skins is also invisible. Donkeys are frequently stolen from owners across Africa and illegally slaughtered in the bush; only the skins are removed and carcasses left to rot. In other areas, donkeys are bought at less than current market value and are transported in inhumane conditions to recently built ‘legal’ slaughterhouses. The invisibility of the legal and illegal markets is compounded by illegitimate export practices and criminal gangs. Due to the lucrative market for skins intensive farms are present in China and are likely to expand to other countries, such rearing creates significant welfare concerns for a species poorly adapted to intensive practices. Even if awareness of this trade improves, in the short term donkey owners are facing donkey prices that have increased up to tenfold within a few years and they are without the means to replace animals they depend on.

This emerging trade is, essentially, a fur trade with animal skins being sourced for human beauty. However while furs are visible, the role of donkey skins in ejiao products is invisible to the end user, mirroring the invisibility of the trade and donkeys themselves.

Under The Skin: Donkeys in Crisis

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Date presented: 
Monday 3 July 2017
Abstract

Increased levels of personal wealth in China are fuelling demand for luxury products
including ejiao, a product made using donkey skin. A traditional medicine, ejiao’s
popularity is largely due to its reported anti-aging properties. Demand for donkey skins to
produce ejiao is conservatively estimated at 4 million per year. This represents a
significant proportion of the global donkey population of 44 million. China’s own donkey
population has nearly halved in the last 20 years and entrepreneurs are now looking
worldwide to satisfy a growing demand. Despite their essential role in livelihoods and
30 community resilience donkeys are largely invisible in livestock policies, livelihoods and humanitarian projects. It is therefore unsurprising that the emerging trade in skins is also invisible. Donkeys are frequently stolen from owners across Africa and illegally slaughtered in the bush; only the skins are removed and carcasses left to rot. In other areas, donkeys are bought at less than current market value and are transported in inhumane conditions to recently built legal slaughterhouses. In the short term donkey owners are facing donkey prices that have increased up to tenfold within a few years and they are without the means to replace animals they depend on. The invisibility of the trade is compounded by illegitimate export practices and criminal gangs. Due to the lucrative market for skins intensive farms are present in China and are likely to expand to other countries. Such rearing creates significant welfare concerns for a species poorly adapted to intensive practices. Australia has been exploring harvesting feral donkeys in the Northern Territories, possibly including some considered by indigenous communities to be owned and with cultural significance. This demand risks the welfare of donkeys, the communities who live with them, and, within a few decades, perhaps the species as a whole.

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Focal gingival hyperplasia in a donkey

Citation

J. B. Rodrigues, J. F. Requicha, F. San Roman, C. Viegas, A. Gama. March 2015. Focal gingival hyperplasia in a donkey. Journal of Veterinary Dentistry. 32:1. 54-55.

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Publication date: 
1 March 2015
Volume: 
32
Issue: 
1
Page numbers: 
54-55
DOI number: 
https://doi.org/10.1177/089875641503200106
Abstract

An 18-year old jenny was observed with a right maxillary tumefaction, presenting weight loss, quidding, dysphagia and halitosis. An external and intra oral examinations were performed. Both exams revealed a complete blockage of motion in the right mandible, due to the presence of severe shear mouth. A pedunculated mass was observed in the right maxillary vestibular space. It was speculated that the mass resulted from food debris acting as a source of gingival irritation, as a consequence of the shear mouth.
Gingival hyperplasia is a common histological feature in equids, due to close contact between an abrasive diet and oral tissues. However, on a macroscopic level, pathological proliferation of the gingival tissue is uncommon and seldom reaches significant dimensions, but still should be considered differential diagnoses when examining an equid with pertinent clinical signs, mainly when severe dental disorders are diagnosed.
This clinical case seems to be the first describing the occurrence of gingival fibrous hyperplasia apparently as a direct consequence of shear mouth in a donkey.

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Measuring conformation in mules, hinnies, and donkeys (Equus asinus) from Spanish and Portuguese populations

Citation

A. K. McLean, W. Wang, A. Heartfield, J. B. Rodrigues. May 2015. Measuring conformation in mules, hinnies, and donkeys (Equus asinus) from Spanish and Portuguese populations. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 35:5. 426-427.

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Publication date: 
1 May 2015
Volume: 
35
Issue: 
5
Page numbers: 
426-427
DOI number: 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2015.03.112
Abstract

Mules and hinnies are hybrid offspring of donkeys (Equus asinus) and horses (Equus caballus). Little scientific information is known regarding mules and even less is known about hinnies, the reciprocal cross. Conformation standards are in place for horses but currently are not available for equid hybrids or donkeys. Conformation maybe related to functionality and longevity of equids. All animals in this study were of similar genetics (Zamora Leones and Mirandes donkey breeds and Spanish horses) from Toro, Spain and Miranda do Douro, Portugal and used for traction.

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Pedigree and herd characterization of a donkey breed vulnerable to extinction

Citation

M. Quaresma, A. M. F. Martins, J. B. Rodrigues, J. Colaço, R. Payan-Carreira. March 2014. Pedigree and herd characterization of a donkey breed vulnerable to extinction. Animal. 8:3. 354-359.

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Publication date: 
1 March 2014
Journal: 
Animal
Volume: 
8
Issue: 
3
Page numbers: 
354-359
Abstract

Most donkey and local horse breeds are vulnerable to extinction as mechanization of agriculture progress throughout the world. The present study analyzed the pedigree and herd records of the donkey Asinina de Miranda breed (RAM), identifying genealogical and human factors that may affect the breed genetic diversity in the future and suggesting suitable strategies to breed preservation, early on the conservation program. The breeding rate was very low, with a ratio of foaling/live animals of 0.23 (178/760). The estimated number of founders and ancestors contributing to the reference population was 128 and 121. The number of founder herds in the reference population was 64, with an effective number of founder herds for the reference population of 7.6. The mean age of herd owners was 65.50±0.884 years, with a negative association among the herd size and owner’s age (P<0.001). In contrast, the size of the herd and the ownership of a male were both positively associated (P<0.001) with the herd number of in-born foals. Both the owners’ age and the herd location (RAM home region v. dispersal region) were negatively associated with the foaling number (P<0.001). The main identified risk factors were: low breeding rates; low number of males and their unequal contribution to the genetic pool; unequal contribution of the herds to genetic pool; and advanced age of herd owners.
Published online: 13 December 2013

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A clinical survey on the prevalence and types of cheek teeth disorders present in 400 Zamorano-Leonés and 400 Mirandês donkeys (Equus asinus)

Citation

J. B. Rodrigues, Padraic M. Dixon, E. Bastos, F. San Roman, C. Viegas. November 2013. A clinical survey on the prevalence and types of cheek teeth disorders present in 400 Zamorano-Leonés and 400 Mirandês donkeys (Equus asinus). Veterinary Record. 173:23. 581.

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Publication date: 
4 November 2013
Journal: 
Veterinary Record
Volume: 
173
Issue: 
23
Page numbers: 
581
Abstract

Dental disease is now recognised as a major but often unrecognised disorder of equids, including horses and donkeys. However, very few large clinical studies have documented the prevalence and type of dental disease present in different equid populations and no dental studies have been reported in Zamorano-Leonés or Mirandês donkeys, two endangered donkey breeds. Clinical and detailed oral examinations were performed in 400 Mirandês and 400 Zamorano-Leonés donkeys in Portugal and Spain. It was found that just 4.5 per cent had ever received any previous dental care. Cheek teeth (CT) disorders were present in 82.8 per cent of these donkeys, ranging from a prevalence of 29.6 per cent in the <2.5-year-old group to 100 per cent in the >25-year-old group. These CT disorders included enamel overgrowths (73.1 per cent prevalence but with just 6.3 per cent having associated soft tissue injuries), focal overgrowths (37.3 per cent), periodontal disease (23.5 per cent) and diastemata (19.9 per cent). Peripheral caries was present in 5.9 per cent of cases, but inexplicably, infundibular caries was very rare (1.3 per cent prevalence); this may have been due to their almost fully foraged diet. The high prevalence of enamel overgrowths in these donkeys, most which never received concentrates, also raises questions about the aetiology of this disorder. This very high prevalence of CT disorders, especially in older donkeys, was of great welfare concern in some cases and emphasises the need for routine dental care in these cases on welfare grounds and in order to help preserve these unique breeds.

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Analysis of new Matrilin-1 gene variants in a case-control study related to dental malocclusions in Equus asinus

Citation

J. B. Rodrigues, S. Araujo, H. Guedes-Pinto, F. San Roman, C. Viegas, E. Bastos. June 2013. Analysis of new Matrilin-1 gene variants in a case-control study related to dental malocclusions in Equus asinus. Gene. 522:1. 702-74.

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Publication date: 
10 June 2013
Journal: 
Gene
Volume: 
522
Issue: 
1
Page numbers: 
702-74
Abstract

Prognathism and brachygnathism are craniofacial deformities that severely affect the health of human and vertebrates, such as donkeys. The multifactorial etiology of this disease makes the genetic analysis a powerful tool for its understanding and prevention of spreading these deformities.
This study aims to contribute to the characterization of the genetic basis of prognathism and brachygnathism in donkeys, using the Zamorano-Leonés donkey, an endangered Spanish breed, as a model. Matrilin-1 (MATN1) polymorphisms have been previously described as markers for mandibular prognathism in Korean and Japanese human populations. Genetic variations in MATN1 gene were sought, in order to verify its association in a case–control study, including 30 donkeys presenting brachygnathism, 30 donkeys presenting prognathism and 30 donkeys with normal occlusion phenotypes. One genetic variation (g503G > A) located in an intronic region of MATN1 gene was identified and characterized. Statistically significant differences were detected between the control group and prognathism cases, but no statistical significant results were found between the control group and the brachygnathism cases. These results support evidence for an important role of MATN1 on prognathism in the analyzed population with MATN1 genetic variation – 503G > A – having a protective effect. Further studies should be developed in order to understand the whole role of MATN1 and the mechanisms affected by its genetic variations

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