donkey

Comparison of working equid welfare across three regions of Mexico

Citation

Emily Haddy, Faith A. Burden, Omar Prado-Ortiz, Humberto Zappi, Zoe Raw, Leanne Proops. 13 September 2020. Comparison of working equid welfare across three regions of Mexico. Equine Veterinary Journal.

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Publication date: 
13 September 2020
DOI number: 
10.1111/evj.13349
Abstract

Background: Factors affecting working equid welfare are wide-ranging and reflect cultural, economic and climatic conditions, the type of work equids are used for, and individual differences in the practices of their handlers. In Mexico working equids are widely used for facilitating agricultural activities, however, welfare issues are common.

Objectives: To assess working equids across three communities in Mexico, identify predominant welfare problems and document how these problems vary across locations and associated working roles and species type.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Methods: The study combined the administration of a wide-ranging questionnaire to equid handlers/owners and a welfare assessment of their animal. 120 equid owners were asked about their equid management practices, the working conditions and health status of their animal. The welfare of their equids (56 donkeys, 7 mules, 57 horses) was assessed by evaluating body condition, signs of illness or injury, and behavioural indicators.

Results: Welfare varied by species, working role, sex and location. The poorest welfare was seen in one of the two arid regions (the third location having a tropical climate). Donkeys had poorer welfare than horses, and equids used for packing had poorer welfare than those used for riding and agroforestry. Overall poor body condition and wounds were the most common problems seen.

Main limitations: Work type, species type and location strongly co-varied, thus the impact of each factor could not be assessed in isolation. The sample size was relatively small.

Conclusions: Results showed significant regional variations in welfare, suggesting that environmental and/or cultural variations are producing a major effect on welfare.

Published online ahead of print.

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Documenting the welfare and role of working equids in rural communities of Portugal and Spain

Citation

Emily Haddy, J. B. Rodrigues, Zoe Raw, Faith A. Burden, Leanne Proops. 2 May 2020. Documenting the welfare and role of working equids in rural communities of Portugal and Spain. Animals. 10:5. 790.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
2 May 2020
Journal: 
Animals
Volume: 
10
Issue: 
5
Page numbers: 
790
DOI number: 
10.3390/ani10050790
Abstract

Recently, the need for a more holistic approach to welfare assessment has been highlighted. This is particularly pertinent in the case of working equids who provide vital support for human livelihoods, often in low- to middle-income countries, yet suffer from globally low standards of welfare. This study aimed to provide insight into the welfare status and traditional use of working equids in rural Western European communities using the new EARS welfare tool, designed to provide a broad view of the welfare of working equids and the context in which they are found. Other questions on the topics of equid management practices, social transmission of expertise, environmental stressors, and traditions, alongside physical and behavioural welfare assessments were also included to explore the impact of these wide-ranging factors on an understudied population of working equids. The protocol was trialled on 60 working equid owners from communities in Portugal and Spain where, despite the decline in traditional agricultural practices and livestock keeping, donkeys and mules remain working animals. Many owners stated that the help donkeys provided was invaluable, and donkeys were considered to be important for both farming and daily life. However, participants also recognised that the traditional agricultural way of life was dying out, providing insights into the traditional practices, community structure, and beliefs of equid owners. Questions investigating the social networks and social transfer of information within the villages were effective in finding local sources of equid knowledge. Overall, welfare was deemed fair, and the protocol enabled the identification of the most prevalent welfare problems within the communities studied, in this case obesity and the use of harmful practices. The findings suggest that the new protocol was feasible and detail how contextual factors may influence equid welfare. Increasing understanding of the cultural context, social structure, and attitudes within a community, alongside more traditional investigations of working practices and animal management, may, in the future, help to make equid welfare initiatives more effective.

Full paper is available Open Access.

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First record of besnoitiosis caused by Besnoitia bennetti in donkeys from the UK

Citation

Hany Elsheikha, Gereon Schares, Georgios Paraschou, Rebekah Sullivan, Richard Fox. 3 June 2020. First record of besnoitiosis caused by Besnoitia bennetti in donkeys from the UK. Parasites & Vectors. 13.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
3 June 2020
Journal: 
Parasites & Vectors
Volume: 
13
DOI number: 
0.1186/s13071-020-04145-8
Abstract

Background: The involvement of Besnoitia bennetti in skin pathologies was investigated in a series of 20 donkeys from the Donkey Sanctuary in England, in the 2013–2019 period. Methods: The initial histopathological finding of Besnoitia cysts in skin lumps that were presumed to be sarcoids in 2013 triggered our cognisance of this parasite and resulted in identification of a total of 20 cases. Histopathological examination of surgical biopsy samples collected from 8 live donkeys and tissue specimens from 12 deceased donkeys at post-mortem examination revealed the presence of Besnoitia cysts in all 20 donkeys. The indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT) and immunoblotting analysis showed the presence of anti-Besnoitia antibodies in archived serum samples from 4 deceased donkeys. Additionally, infection was evidenced in one live donkey based on IFAT and immunoblot analysis of tissue fluid of a dermal mass containing Besnoitia cysts, and real-time (RT)-PCR analysis and microsatellite genotyping of DNA isolated from the tissue of the same dermal mass confirmed the infection specifically as B. bennetti. Results: Both serological and microsatellite analyses confirmed the aetiology to be B. bennetti. Our findings suggested that in cases of skin masses such as sarcoids, the suspicion of B. bennetti infection should be borne in mind even when clinical and histopathology examination results are negative in order to avoid misdiagnosis. Conclusions: This case series documents, to our knowledge, the first report of B. bennetti infection in donkeys in the UK, indicating that donkey besnoitiosis has become noteworthy in the UK. Further investigations of the occurrence, epidemiological characteristics, and clinical manifestations of B. bennetti infection in donkeys and other equids are warranted.

Full paper is available Open Access.

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Demography, preventative healthcare and reason for relinquishment of donkeys to an equine charity in the UK (2013‐2015)

Citation

Elena Barrio, Ignacio De Blas Giral, Alexandra K. Thiemann, F. J. Vazquez Bringas. 15 June 2020. Demography, preventative healthcare and reason for relinquishment of donkeys to an equine charity in the UK (2013‐2015). Equine Veterinary Education.

Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
15 June 2020
DOI number: 
10.1111/evj.13310
Abstract

Background
In the UK, there are thousands of donkeys being cared for by charities; however, little is known about the reasons for relinquishment or their previous health status, with even less information available in published literature. Such information could help to identify factors contributing to poor equine welfare and guide the development of appropriate educational resources.

Objectives
To describe the characteristics of the relinquished donkeys and to better understand the current preventative healthcare status of donkeys relinquished into The Donkey Sanctuary.

Study design
Cross‐sectional observational survey.

Methods
A total of 596 donkeys were admitted during a 30‐month period. Each had a health check at arrival; and previous management information was provided by the owner. Data were retrieved from The Donkey Sanctuary database, inputted into a specific Microsoft Access 2016 database then exported for analysis in IBM SPSS 19.0 for Windows®. Mules and ponies were excluded from the study.

Results
Many donkeys arrived without a valid passport (32.3%) or microchip (49.7%). Only 23.2% were fully protected against influenza and tetanus and 21.0% of the donkeys had no previous anthelmintic treatment history. Geriatric donkeys often suffered from moderate to severe dental disease in need of advanced treatment, and 43.9% had received no dental treatment within the last year. Overall 26.3% of donkeys were classed as overweight and 8.6% were obese. The median time since the last hoof trim was 10 weeks.

Main limitation
The health status of the studied donkeys may have been affected by the reasons for relinquishment, and associations require further investigation.

Conclusions
This study highlights the need for improving preventative healthcare in donkeys to ensure better welfare within the population.

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Monitoring Acute Pain in Donkeys with the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Donkeys Composite Pain Assessment (EQUUS-DONKEY-COMPASS) and the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Donkey Facial Assessment of Pain (EQUUS-DONKEY-FAP)

Citation
Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
22 February 2020
Journal: 
Animals
Volume: 
10
Issue: 
2
Page numbers: 
354
DOI number: 
10.3390/ani10020354
Abstract

Objective pain assessment in donkeys is of vital importance for improving welfare in a species that is considered stoic. This study presents the construction and testing of two pain scales, the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Donkey Composite Pain Assessment (EQUUS-DONKEY-COMPASS) and the Equine Utrecht University Scale for Donkey Facial Assessment of Pain (EQUUS-DONKEY-FAP), in donkeys with acute pain. A cohort follow-up study using 264 adult donkeys (n = 12 acute colic, n = 25 acute orthopaedic pain, n = 18 acute head-related pain, n = 24 postoperative pain, and n = 185 controls) was performed. Both pain scales showed differences between donkeys with different types of pain and their control animals (p < 0.001). The EQUUS-DONKEY-COMPASS and EQUUS-DONKEY-FAP showed high inter-observer reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.97 and 0.94, respectively, both p < 0.001). Sensitivity of the EQUUS-DONKEY-COMPASS was good for colic and orthopaedic pain (83% and 88%, respectively), but poor for head-related and postoperative pain (17% and 21%, respectively). Sensitivity of the EQUUS-DONKEY-FAP was good for colic and head-related pain (75% and 78%, respectively), but moderate for orthopaedic and postoperative pain (40% and 50%, respectively). Specificity was good for all types of pain with both scales (91%–99%). Different types of acute pain in donkeys can be validly assessed by either a composite or a facial expression-based pain scale.

Full article available open access.

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Multi-kingdom characterization of the core equine fecal microbiota based on multiple equine (sub)species

Citation

Joan E. Edwards, S. A. Shetty, P. van den Berg, Faith A. Burden, D. A. van Doorm, W. F. Pellikaan, J. Dijkstra, H. Smidt. 12 February 2020. Multi-kingdom characterization of the core equine fecal microbiota based on multiple equine (sub)species. Animal Microbiome. 2:6.

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Publication date: 
12 February 2020
Journal: 
Animal Microbiome
Volume: 
2
Issue: 
6
DOI number: 
10.1186/s42523-020-0023-1
Abstract

Background: Equine gut microbiology studies to date have primarily focused on horses and ponies, which represent only one of the eight extant equine species. This is despite asses and mules comprising almost half of the world’s domesticated equines, and donkeys being superior to horses/ponies in their ability to degrade dietary fiber. Limited attention has also been given to commensal anaerobic fungi and archaea even though anaerobic fungi are potent fiber degrading organisms, the activity of which is enhanced by methanogenic archaea. Therefore, the objective of this study was to broaden the current knowledge of bacterial, anaerobic fungal and archaeal diversity of the equine fecal microbiota to multiple species of equines. Core taxa shared by all the equine fecal samples (n = 70) were determined and an overview given of the microbiota across different equine types (horse, donkey, horse × donkey and zebra). Results: Equine type was associated with differences in both fecal microbial concentrations and community composition. Donkey was generally most distinct from the other equine types, with horse and zebra not differing. Despite this, a common bacterial core of eight OTUs (out of 2070) and 16 genus level groupings (out of 231) was found in all the fecal samples. This bacterial core represented a much larger proportion of the equine fecal microbiota than previously reported, primarily due to the detection of predominant core taxa belonging to the phyla Kiritimatiellaeota (formerly Verrucomicrobia subdivision 5) and Spirochaetes. The majority of the core bacterial taxa lack cultured representation. Archaea and anaerobic fungi were present in all animals, however, no core taxon was detected for either despite several taxa being prevalent and predominant. Conclusions: Whilst differences were observed between equine types, a core fecal microbiota existed across all the equines. This core was composed primarily of a few predominant bacterial taxa, the majority of which are novel and lack cultured representation. The lack of microbial cultures representing the predominant taxa needs to be addressed, as their availability is essential to gain fundamental knowledge of the microbial functions that underpin the equine hindgut ecosystem.

Full article available open access.

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"Between the worlds of lost and found" The reciprocal relationship between excluded individuals and excluded animals

Citation

Roger Cutting. 26 September 2019. "Between the worlds of lost and found" The reciprocal relationship between excluded individuals and excluded animals. Presented at European Outdoor Education Conference. (25 September - 27 September 2019). Tralee, Ireland.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Thursday 26 September 2019
Abstract

The Donkey Sanctuary is one of the world’s largest animal welfare charities and although its primary work is focussed on animals in Low Income Countries, the organisation does run significant animal assisted therapy programmes at its six farm centres in the UK. The ethological characteristics of the donkey make it an excellent facilitator in this process, reacting positively to human contact and actively seeking out interaction. Initially, at least, these programmes focused on children with additional needs but over the past four decades the demand for a programme that could help adults and children with a wide range of emotional, psychological and cognitive needs became increasingly apparent. The programme now also focusses on key life skills such as self-esteem, managing emotions and empathy. Furthermore, the wider client group now encompasses a more diverse set of emotional, psychological or physical needs, such as veterans, young people at risk, recovering addicts or those suffering the legacy of abuse. Engagement with animals in outdoor settings is an effective technique for establishing a position where affective behaviours may be explored and eventually expedited.

However, this paper presents two complimentary accounts. Initially it will discuss, through anonymised case-studies, the approaches that are adopted within this programme and will critically evaluate the difficulties of evaluating outcomes. It will then explore, within the context of the growing interest in animal therapies, the apparent enigma that while the outdoors is often cited as a medium in which therapies of varying types may take place, animals appear largely excluded from these narratives and therefore from published research. It concludes by exploring the paradoxical proposition that donkey assisted therapies involve one of the most derided and low status of animals, in strategies to promote the inclusion of those excluded from wider human society.

Dental disorders of donkeys

Citation

J. B. Rodrigues, Gemma Lilly. 3 October 2019. Dental disorders of donkeys. The Veterinary clinics of North America. Equine Practice. 35:3. 529-544.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
3 October 2019
Volume: 
35
Issue: 
3
Page numbers: 
529-544
DOI number: 
10.1016/j.cveq.2019.08.008
Abstract

Research and clinical understanding of equine dentistry has progressed in recent years; however, specific knowledge about donkey dentistry is lacking. This article intends to revise unique anatomic features of the head and oral cavity of donkeys, as well as how to correctly examine, diagnose, prevent, and/or treat dental pathology, allowing for a better comprehension of oral and dental disorders affecting these animals throughout their life. It also emphasizes that these disorders need to be taken into account when assessing the welfare of donkeys.

Published online ahead of print.

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Italian donkey milk farms: a snapshot of welfare conditions

Citation

Francesca Dai, Giulia Segati, Emmanuela Dalla Costa, Faith A. Burden, Andrew Judge, Michela Minero. 21 October 2019. Italian donkey milk farms: a snapshot of welfare conditions. Poster presented at European Congress of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 21 October 2019
Abstract

Donkey milk is precious for paediatric patients suffering from multiple-allergies and this research aims to investigate welfare of donkeys used to produce milk in Italy.

Twelve farms were visited between June and September 2015 by two female assessors, aged 23 - 31 years. The welfare assessment was conducted on a representative sample of animals, using the AWIN welfare assessment protocol for donkeys, comprising 22 animal based indicators. A total of 257 donkeys (females = 131; pregnant females = 73 gelding = 1; stallions = 52) of different breeds, aged between one and 360 months (mean = 65.70 ± 61.92) were assessed. Data was collected using ODK application and analysed with IBM SPSS Statistic 23. The proportion of donkeys with different scores for each welfare indicator was calculated.

On the average, the assessed donkeys enjoyed good welfare status. Most of the donkeys (80.2%) showed a good nutritional status (BCS = 3); the others tended to be thin (12.8% with BCS = 2) rather than fat (6.2% with BCS = 4). The main issue highlighted was hoof care: 18.7% of the donkeys showed signs of neglect. All the donkeys could express normal behaviour and interact with conspecifics. Most of the donkeys showed positive reactions to human-animal relationship tests; 20.9% donkeys were not used to be restrained with a head-collar, thus it was not possible to assess them.

Even though no major welfare issues were found, some management practices require consideration. Education of farmers could prove useful to improve dairy donkey welfare.

Hoof disorders and farriery in the donkey

Citation

Alexandra K. Thiemann, Luke. A. Poore. 3 October 2019. Hoof disorders and farriery in the donkey. The Veterinary clinics of North America. Equine Practice. 35:3. 643-658.

Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
3 October 2019
Volume: 
35
Issue: 
3
Page numbers: 
643-658
DOI number: 
10.1016/j.cveq.2019.08.012
Abstract

This article provides a review of hoof anatomy and care in donkeys and mules. Hoof disease is a major cause of poor welfare and mortality globally. Problems associated with hoof disease are discussed in the context of behavior, diet, treatment, and prevention. The most common conditions encountered are discussed, including laminitis, the overgrown unbalanced hoof, white line disease, flexural deformities, and other significant issues. Differences between donkey and horse hoof anatomy are described.

Published online ahead of print.

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