mule

Social relations in a mixed group of mules, ponies and donkeys reflect differences in equid type

Citation

Leanne Proops, Faith A. Burden, Britta Osthaus. May 2012. Social relations in a mixed group of mules, ponies and donkeys reflect differences in equid type. Behavioural Processes.

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Publication date: 
10 May 2012
DOI number: 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.012
Abstract

Donkeys and mules are frequently kept as companion animals for horses and ponies, with these different equids often being considered a homogenous group. However, the extent to which domestic equids form inter-specific bonds and display similar social behaviour when living in a mixed herd has not previously been studied. Here we compare the social organization of these three (sub)species when housed together, providing the first systematic analysis of how genetic hybridization is expressed in the social behaviour of mules. A group of 16 mules, donkeys and ponies was observed for 70 h and preferred associates, dominance rank and the linearity of the group’s hierarchy was determined. The different equids formed distinct affiliative groups that were ordered in a linear hierarchy with ponies as the most dominant, mules in the middle ranks and donkeys in the lowest ranks. Within each equid subgroup, the strength of the hierarchy also varied. Thus in the present study, the three (sub)species displayed different social organization and levels of dominance and preferred to associate with animals of the same equid type, given the opportunity. These results suggest that different domestic equid (sub) species display variations in social behaviour that are likely to have a strong genetic basis.

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Practical feeding and condition scoring for donkeys

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Faith A. Burden. October 2011. Practical feeding and condition scoring for donkeys. Equine Veterinary Education.

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Publication date: 
1 October 2011
DOI number: 
10.1111/j.2042-3292.2011.00314.x
Abstract

Donkeys have evolved to thrive on highly fibrous, poor quality foodstuffs and have evolved as browsers as well as grazers. As such, they have different nutrient requirements with significantly lower energy and protein needs when compared with horses. Dietary management of donkeys is essential when kept in a temperate climate as they are prone to obesity and related disorders. A diet based on fibrous forages and limited grazing is usually sufficient for the majority of donkeys and mules. Specialist feeding is discussed in this article.

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The potential of the whole-community approach to achieve the welfare of donkeys and mules

Citation

Avril R. Moreno. 29 November 2010. The potential of the whole-community approach to achieve the welfare of donkeys and mules. Presented at 6th International Colloquium on Working Equids. (29 November - 2 December 2010). New Delhi, India. 407.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 29 November 2010
Proceedings
Number of pages: 
407
Publisher: 
The Brooke
Publication date: 
31 December 2010

Mule cognition: A case of hybrid vigour?

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Leanne Proops, Faith A. Burden, Britta Osthaus. July 2009. Mule cognition: A case of hybrid vigour?. Animal Cognition. 12:1. 75-84.

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Publication date: 
1 July 2009
Journal: 
Animal Cognition
Volume: 
12
Issue: 
1
Page numbers: 
75-84
DOI number: 
10.1007/s10071-008-0172-1
Abstract

This study compares the behaviour of the mule (Equus asinus × Equus caballus) with that of its parent species to assess the effects of hybridization on cognition. Six mules, six ponies (E. caballus) and six donkeys (E. asinus) were given a two choice visual discrimination learning task. Each session consisted of 12 trials and pass level was reached when subjects chose the correct stimulus for at least 9 out of the 12 trials in three consecutive sessions. A record was made of how many pairs each subject learnt over 25 sessions. The mules’ performance was significantly better than that of either of the parent species (Kruskal-Wallis: Hx = 8.11, P = 0.017). They were also the only group to learn enough pairs to be able to show a successive reduction in the number of sessions required to reach criterion level. This study provides the first empirical evidence that the improved characteristics of mules may be extended from physical attributes to cognitive function.

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