mule

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 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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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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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 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, Nikki 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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Donkey and mule behaviour for the veterinary team

Citation

Anna Haines, Joanna Goliszek. January 2019. Donkey and mule behaviour for the veterinary team. UK-Vet Equine. 3:1. 27-32.

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Publication date: 
23 January 2019
Journal: 
UK-Vet Equine
Volume: 
3
Issue: 
1
Page numbers: 
27-32
DOI number: 
10.12968/ukve.2019.3.1.27
Abstract

The donkey's evolution, ethology and learning capacity mean that the behaviour of donkeys and mules is significantly different to that of the horse. Subtle behaviour change in the donkey can indicate severe, life-threatening disease. An understanding of donkey and mule behaviour will help veterinary surgeons to handle these animals safely, treat them effectively and educate owners to spot the subtle signs of disease

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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 details
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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The prevalence of lameness and associated risk factors in cart mules in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Citation

Alina Ali, Solomon Orion, Tewodros Tesfaye, Jennifer A. Zambriski. September 2016. The prevalence of lameness and associated risk factors in cart mules in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Tropical Animal Health and Production.

Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
1 September 2016
DOI number: 
10.1007/s11250-016-1121-7
Abstract

Ethiopia has 7.1 million donkeys and mules, the majority of which are used as pack animals. Factors such as poor harness quality, long-distance traveling, and heavy cartloads have been linked to reduced work efficiency. Addressing the health and welfare of working equids is imperative not only for the animals but also for the households dependent upon them for livelihood. In developing countries, 75 % of working equids have gait or limb abnormalities, but the relationship between workload and prevalence of lameness is unknown. We examined 450 cart mules in Bahir Dar,
Ethiopia. Lameness and workload were assessed through use of a survey and lameness exam. We found that 26.8 % of cart mules were lame, and acute lameness of the forelimb was the most common. Animals with poor harness quality were 2.5 times more likely to have sores and 1.6 times more likely to be lame. Lameness tended to be associated with cartloads >700 kg (P = 0.09), and there was a significant association
between multiple-leg lameness and cartload weight (P = 0.03). The presence of sores was the best predictor of lameness (P = 0.001). Possible areas of intervention may include education to reduce average daily workload and improving harness design.

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Donkeys are different

Citation

Faith A. Burden, Alexandra K. Thiemann. 20 March 2015. Donkeys are different. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

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Publication date: 
20 March 2015
Abstract

As a unique species of equine the donkey has certain specific variations from the horse. This review highlights the origins of the donkey and how this impacts upon its behaviour, physiology and propensity to disease. The donkey is less of a flight animal and has been used by humans for pack and draught work, in areas where their ability to survive poorer diets, and transboundary disease while masking overt signs of pain and distress has made them indispensable to human livelihoods.

When living as a companion animal however the donkey easily accumulates adipose tissue, this may create a metabolically compromised individual prone to diseases of excess such as laminitis and hyperlipaemia. They show anatomical variations from the horse especially in the hoof, upper airway, and their conformation. Variations in physiology lead to differences in the metabolism and distribution of many drugs. With over 44 million donkeys worldwide it is important that veterinarians have the ability to understand and treat this equid effectively.

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