donkey

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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Gastrointestinal Disorders of Donkeys and Mules

Citation

Alexandra K. Thiemann, Rebekah Sullivan. 3 October 2019. Gastrointestinal Disorders of Donkeys and Mules. The Veterinary clinics of North America. Equine Practice.. 35:3. 419-432.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
3 October 2019
Volume: 
35
Issue: 
3
Page numbers: 
419-432
DOI number: 
10.1016/j.cveq.2019.08.001
Abstract

A review of common gastrointestinal disorders of donkeys and mules is presented. Clinically relevant aspects of donkey behavior, anatomy, and physiology are highlighted. Diagnosis, management, and treatment of conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract from stomach to rectum, including liver and pancreas, are discussed.

Published online ahead of print.

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Donkey Nutrition and Malnutrition

Citation

Faith A. Burden, Nicola Bell. 3 October 2019. Donkey Nutrition and Malnutrition. The Veterinary clinics of North America. Equine Practice.. 35:3. 469-479.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
3 October 2019
Volume: 
35
Issue: 
3
Page numbers: 
469-479
DOI number: 
10.1016/j.cveq.2019.08.004
Abstract

The domestic donkey is a unique equid species with specific nutritional requirements. This article examines the importance of feeding strategies that mimic the donkey's natural environment using poor nutritional quality fibers and access to browsing materials. The relationship between nutrition and health is examined and practical approaches to the healthy and sick donkey are discussed.

Published online ahead of print.

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Laminitis in donkeys: a pilot study investigating radiographic versus post-mortem measurements

Citation

Abigail Sefton. 2 September 2019. Laminitis in donkeys: a pilot study investigating radiographic versus post-mortem measurements. Equine Veterinary Journal. 51:S53. 10.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
2 September 2019
Volume: 
51
Issue: 
S53
Page numbers: 
10
DOI number: 
10.1111/evj.10_13152
Abstract

Background:

Laminitis is a painful disease of equines. Radiographic and post-mortem evaluations of feet are often an important part of welfare investigations, and professional opinions by veterinarians are necessary in resulting legal cases. Any difference in measurements between the two modalities can cause uncertainty, potentially affecting
the legal decision.

Objectives:

To quantify the difference between radiographic and postmortem pre-mortem vs. post-mortem effects.

Study design: Case series.

Methods: Seven donkeys with laminitis confirmed via standard workup, euthanased for reasons unrelated to the study, were selected. Weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing lateral radiographs were taken of both front feet within 24 h pre-mortem. Feet were removed and sagitally sectioned between 48 and 72 h post-mortem. Lateral radiographs were taken of the feet immediately following sectioning. Founder distance and rotation were evaluated at each time point and compared using paired t-tests (P < 0.05).

Results:

Compared with pre-mortem weight-bearing radiographs, nonweight-bearing feet had a decreased founder distance and decreased rotation. Compared with pre-mortem non-weight- bearing radiographs, post-mortem feet had increased rotation and no change in founder distance. There were no significant differences between post-mortem direct measurements and post- mortem radiographs. Compared with standard weight-bearing radiographs, post-mortem measurements had a decreased founder distance and increased rotation.

Main limitations: Small sample size. Further samples are needed to confirm these initial conclusions.

Conclusions:

Measurements of post-mortem feet have a decreased founder distance and an increased rotation compared with standard radiographic images. Changes in founder distance are seen due to changes in weight-bearing. Changes in rotation are seen post-mortem, and can be explained by autolysis of the laminae and/or rigor mortis
causing tendon contracture. Most studies have focused on indications and severity of laminitis in living animals using radiographs: postmortem measurements should therefore be interpreted with caution.

Competing interests:

None declared.

Ethical animal research:

Approved by The Donkey Sanctuary.

Donkeys were owned by The Donkey Sanctuary and were used with consent.

Sources of funding:

The Donkey Sanctuary.

Online references

EARS - Equid assessment research & scoping tool: a new approach to analyse, understand and respond to equid welfare problems worldwide

Citation

J. B. Rodrigues, Joe Ryding, Andrew Judge, A. Chapman, E. L. Hales, Zoe Raw, Faith A. Burden. 17 September 2019. EARS - Equid assessment research & scoping tool: a new approach to analyse, understand and respond to equid welfare problems worldwide. Poster presented at Fourth Annual Meeting of Animal Welfare Research Network. (16 September - 17 September 2019). Bristol, United Kingdom.

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Date presented: 
Tuesday 17 September 2019
Abstract

The capacity for decision-making and intervention in any project related to equid welfare should be based on a knowledge of the real issues affecting these animals worldwide, regardless of the tasks performed. This approach is even more important when new emerging economic activities around equids - e.g. donkey skin trade - are particularly challenging in terms of animal welfare.

The Equid Assessment Research & Scoping (EARS) Tool is a questionnaire developed by The Donkey Sanctuary, in collaboration with World Horse Welfare, with the main purpose to provide reliable information about the general health and welfare of equids worldwide. EARS is primarily designed to obtain individual information about an equid and its surrounding environment, or from a group of equids in similar conditions, through cumulative repetition. It is organized into 18 indicators, each one divided in to different categories, and each category with a specific set of questions. The EARS Tool allows the development of different protocols, by choosing the correct set of questions that best fit the inherent needs.

Data collection and preliminary analysis of data in a simple, fast and effective way are also a central aspect of EARS, by using open source software (OSS) throughout the data collection cycle: Open Data Kit Collect to log information in the field; R to parse, analyze and filter this information; and R Shiny to disseminate the results through dashboards. These OSS products allow off-line data collection with initial overview results presented as soon as the user uploads their surveys when back online.

This new tool contributes to a better understanding of the underlying reasons behind poor equid welfare, and allows the design of evidence-based strategies that not only identify and tackle the real causes of problems, but also allow the organizations to measure the impact of decisions taken over time.

Hide nor hair –the illicit trade in donkey hides is a threat to wild asses

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Zoe Raw. 2 September 2019. Hide nor hair –the illicit trade in donkey hides is a threat to wild asses. Poster presented at 2nd International Wild Equid Conference. (1 September - 5 September 2019). Prague, Czech Republic.

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Date presented: 
Monday 2 September 2019
Abstract

The global donkey population is estimated at 44 million and is largely associated with economically developing nations where donkeys are used as working animals. Donkeys play a central and critical role in supporting the livelihoods of millions of people accross the world, providing support for farming, enabling access to resources, and in food production. Global demand for diverse products of donkey origin has escalated rapidly, with a particular interest in the premium products resulting from donkey skins.

Ejiao is a traditional Chinese medicine product which is based upon extracts of donkey gelatin from donkey skins, mixed with herbs and other ingredients to form a gelatinous bar, which is marketed as a miracle cure for multiple health problems. Since 2010, consumer demand for ejiao has increased rapidly, and subsequently, so has the demand for donkey skins. The Donkey Sanctuary estimate that a minimum of 1.8 million donkey skins are being traded per year, but this may be a gross underestimate. The increasing wealth and diaspora of the Chinese middle classes, alongside the apparent credibility of ejiao products, appears to have created such a high level of demand for donkey skins that global supply is struggling to keep up, leading to high prices and widespread claims of fraud. Such high levels of demand by the Chinese market are fuelling global reports of donkey theft and a sudden increase in the purchase price of donkeys. Products of donkey origin are so highly sought after that ejiao can sell for up to USD $500/kg.

The alarmingly high demand for donkey skins, and high prices that a donkey skin can fetch, positions donkey skin in a similar position as ivory or rhino horn. There is a complete lack of regulation over the utilisation of donkeys for the skin trade to fuel ejiao production, and new slaughter houses are opening at rapid rates to keep up with demand. Consequently, there has been a sharp rise in donkey thefts. As well as being unsustainable and harmful to rural livelihoods, this illicit trade could have devastating effects on populations of wild asses. Donkey skin is highly valuable, yet increasingly scarce, making it feasible that traders will start targeting wild asses. The Afrcan Wild Ass Equus africanus is Critically Endangered, with fewer than 200 mature indivduals remaining in the wild; unfortunately, the species occupies an area of Africa where the trade in donkey skins is high, exposing it to risk of being targeted. There is also some indication that populations of Asiatic Wild Ass Equus hemionus could also come under threat, given their proximity to China and surrounding socioeconomic climate.

The international trade in donkey skins has emerged rapidly and fiercely, and is grossly unsustainable. The trade has the significant potential to eradicate populations of donkeys across Africa, and poses a serious threat to the conservation and survival of African Wild Ass populations. In this presentation I raise and highlight these issues, and open up discussion for how this new threat may be mitigated for the conservation and management of wild equids.

Between welfare and conservation: understanding ‘risk’ in relation to feral and free-roaming donkeys

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Cara Clancy. 2 September 2019. Between welfare and conservation: understanding ‘risk’ in relation to feral and free-roaming donkeys. Poster presented at 2nd International Wild Equid Conference. (1 September - 5 September 2019). Prague, Czech Republic.

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Date presented: 
Monday 2 September 2019
Abstract

For thousands of years, the donkey (Equus asinus) has played an essential role in human society, underpinning the earliest forms of civilisation, providing critical trade networks, and contributing to modern western history through the colonisation of the ‘New World’. Yet, with the advent of motorised transport and agricultural machinery the role of the donkey has diminished in many parts of the world. No longer considered economically viable, donkeys have been turned loose over the years and left to fend for themselves (Mitchell, 2018). These feral and semi-feral donkeys are domesticated animals that have managed to re-adapt, survive and reproduce on their own, without human management. Australia now holds the world’s largest population of feral donkeys – thought to be around 5 million individuals. Here, they are framed as pests; no longer seen as useful to society or fitting for the landscapes in which they dwell. In these situations, donkeys can suffer due to local mistreatment or government attempts to contain the problem, as is the case with the controversial Judas Collar programme in Australia (Bough, 2006). Currently, very little is known about the welfare status of feral and free-roaming donkeys globally. Due to their ambiguous status (being neither owned nor wild) there is often a grey area with respect to their legal status, rights and protections. This paper suggests that more research is needed to understand how welfare issues are defined and prioritised in relation to feral donkeys – both at the individual level and population level.

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