donkey

Use of the Modified AWIN Welfare Assessment Protocol combined with a novel computer-based Animal Management System as a tool for managing herd health in donkeys

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Date presented: 
Saturday 21 April 2018
Abstract

Introduction - The Donkey Sanctuary is a global welfare charity whose mission is "To transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide". In the UK, the DS cares for over 2000 donkeys on a number of farms varying in size from 250-580 animals. The farms aim to rehome approximately 10% of their herd annually to guardian (private) homes or donkey assisted therapy centres. The farms also provide a show case for our work to visiting public and professionals. Welfare of the donkeys on the farms is critical to the credibility of The Donkey Sanctuary.

The veterinary team monitors the herd health to maintain high welfare standards. Traditional input consisted of weekly visits, annual vaccination, dental treatment, parasite control, and a reactive approach to illness. Since the introduction of The Donkey Sanctuary Animal Management System and Animal welfare assessment protocols(AWIN), the team have been able to use evidence -based criteria (EBC) to assess farm herd health.

Methods - Every four months 1) the AMS data base is interrogated supplying information on relevant queries including Body Condition Score, Lameness, Colic, Hyperlipaemia, Sarcoids, Infectious disease, and Mortality rate, 2) an on farm welfare assessment is performed following the stage 1 AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators) protocol for donkeys.

Resource based and animal- based indicators are assessed on a randomly selected 10% of the herd by a team including vet, farm manager and grooms. Different animals are selected at each visit by using the farm named list of donkeys.

Results - Results are recorded via excel, graphical representation and written documentation. The results can be sub-divided in many ways depending upon clinical need.

Discussion- Using EBC and AWIN provides the vet team with tools to pro-actively monitor donkey health, refine management practices, re-direct budgets and track progress. Welfare can be bench marked and improvements aimed for. Monitoring / recording welfare data allows the DS to be compliant with national legislation [4]. Although a number of welfare assessment tools are available AWIN is validated and straightforward to use. The poster illustrates 4 quarters of data presented graphically.

'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

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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

Parasite prevalence in donkeys in the UK

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

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

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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

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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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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

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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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