nutrition

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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Care of the juvenile donkey

Citation

Alexandra K. Thiemann. 14 September 2019. Care of the juvenile donkey. Presented at British Equine Veterinary Association Congress 2019.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Saturday 14 September 2019
Abstract

Nutrition
A donkey foal should be weaned gradually from 6 months of age and able to graze and eat supplementary straw feed. Barley straw is the forage of choice for healthy donkeys with good dentition, as it is low in calorie content while high in fibre, which aids slow digestion and reduces the risk of gastric ulceration. Straw can also be supplemented with hay in cold weather or if extra energy is required. If excess calories are provided to young donkeys, there is a risk of development of orthopaedic conditions including flexor tendon contractures leading to club foot. To balance the high-fibre diet, a low-calorie vitamin/mineral balancer ration is needed until the foal is at least 2 years old or up to 3 years in the larger breeds of donkey. Top Spec provide a donkey specific forage balancer that is appropriate for young donkeys.

Donkeys have lower nutritional requirements compared with horses. Aim to feed 1.3–1.7% of bodyweight in dry matter, the amount dependent on the weather and the individual animal. The donkey’s body condition score should be measured at least four times a year, while weigh tapes and donkey weight normograms help to monitor for slow, steady weight gain. Weaning the foal can be a stressful time for the jenny, so she needs similar careful management and monitoring. Further advice can be found at https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/knowledge-and-advice/fo...
https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/for-professionals

Castration
Castration is a valuable tool to reduce the population of unwanted donkeys and encourage responsible ownership. The optimum time to castrate a donkey is between 6 and 18 months, although some reports suggest that a jack may be sexually mature by 12 months. Donkeys castrated after 18 months are more likely to retain stallion-like behaviours, and to have complications from surgery due to extensive fat deposits in the scrotum, larger testicles and associated blood vessels. Ensure a thorough preoperative check; many donkeys will have had no veterinary contact until castration. Check for heart murmurs and subclinical lung disease. Discuss vaccination and worming
programmes: at a minimum ensure tetanus protection. For most young donkeys, a field castration is adequate. Use a weigh tape or weight estimator to calculate weight. Take a qualified assistant vet or nurse to administer the anaesthetic and top-up doses, as the procedure takes longer than a standing castration. Owners are not suitable assistants. For field anaesthesia, remember to take equipment to protect the donkey’s face and eyes: towels, eye drops, padded head collar, etc.

The Donkey Sanctuary vets prefer to use a standard closed technique for castration of donkeys. The donkey is placed under general anaesthesia, and local anaesthesia is used in the testicle (5–10 mL depending on size). The upper hindlimb is held or roped out of the way. The area may need to be clipped as the scrotum is frequently covered with hair. In the young donkey there should be minimal swelling post-operatively; we use analgesia at donkey doses, for 3–5 days, and depocillin intramuscularly usually for 3 days. Encourage exercise daily; it is useful to cold hose the inguinal area to reduce swelling, avoiding saturating the wound with water. Monitor appetite, faecal output, and demeanour for a week post-surgery. Complications include haemorrhage and infection. If blood is dripping faster than 1 drop/second and not slowing, consider external pressure or re-anaesthetise to locate the source. Infection manifests as a slow-healing wound, discharge, and a painful thickening of the remaining cord tissue. Surgical investigation is often required. In cryptorchid donkeys the anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) test is proven to detect retained testicular tissue. If this test is not available, a human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) stimulation test is required as the oestrone sulfate test is unreliable in donkeys.

Sedation and anaesthesia
Many young donkeys are not well handled, and we must provide good sedation in a welfare-friendly manner. Aim to keep bonded companions together to reduce stress, and
consider oral or i.m. sedation if required before attempting i.v. access.

Young colts can have thick coats and a well-developed ventral neck muscle – clip the vein, elevate the head and aim for the jugular above or below the mid third of the neck. A catheter is needed to top up anaesthesia for castrations. Donkey skin is relatively thick so use a scalpel to nick the skin before inserting the catheter; using a bleb of local anaesthetic makes this easier. Typical equine doses of alpha-2 agonists work for donkeys, but be prepared to increase the dose if the donkey is stressed and do not induce anaesthesia until the head has dropped below the withers. Ketamine at a dose of 2.2–3 mg/kg is typically used together with diazepam at 0.1 mg/kg for induction. Multimodal analgesia is provided with the use of an NSAID, an opioid (typically butorphanol) and local analgesia. Donkeys metabolise ketamine faster than horses so be prepared to top up at timed 10-minute intervals with one-third of the induction dose.

If a triple drip is used for anaesthesia, use a recipe appropriate for donkeys, for example: 300 mL saline, 225 mL 10% guaphenesin, 225 mg xylazine and 900 mg ketamine. Avoid doses of guaphenesin above 150 mg/kg (1.5 mL/kg of 10% solution), as this can cause respiratory and cardiovascular depression. Decreased depth of anaesthesia is often preceded by increased rate and depth of respiration before movement occurs; monitor carefully.

Recovery from anaesthesia is usually good in donkeys, unless multiple ketamine top ups have been used. Be prepared to re-sedate with an alpha-2 agonist. A typical 180 kg donkey requires a size 16 mm endotracheal tube, but have a range of sizes between 14 and 18 mm available. Donkeys can be difficult to intubate due to the
narrow epiglottis and caudally angled larynx.

Anaerobic fungi are a key unexplored taxa for optimizing lignocellulosic fibre utilisation in equines

Citation

Joan E. Edwards, David A van Doorn, Wilbert F Pellikaan, Jan Dijkstra, Henk Everts, Faith A. Burden, Hauke Smidt. 21 June 2016. Anaerobic fungi are a key unexplored taxa for optimizing lignocellulosic fibre utilisation in equines. Presented at INRA-Rowett Symposium. (20 June - 23 June 2016). Clermont-Ferrand, France.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Tuesday 21 June 2016
Event name: 
INRA-Rowett Symposium
Abstract

The hindgut microbiota of equines enables them to utilize forage/grazing based diets which contain a substantial proportion of lignocellulosic fibres. These fibres are a structural barrier that gut bacteria need to overcome when accessing plant nutrients, as well as being a challenging and structurally complex substrate that can be utilized. The limited dietary energy available from these ‘natural’ diets however means that many equines are supplemented with energy-dense concentrate feeds in order to fulfil their dietary energy requirements. Use of energy-dense concentrate feeds however can change the equine hindgut microbiome, and lead to the development of gut-mediated diseases (i.e. fermentative acidosis, laminitis, colic and stomach ulcers). There is therefore a clear need to optimize the utilization of lignocellulosic fibres in the equine hindgut in order to minimize the need for dietary supplementation. The most effective of the fibre-degrading gut microbes, anaerobic fungi (phylum Neocallimastigomycota), are known to be a normal member of the equine gut microbiota. Despite this however, they have been largely overlooked in equine gut microbiology studies to date. Research being conducted within the EU funded EQUIANFUN project will therefore establish baseline knowledge of the phylogeny, community structure, physiology and nutritional impact of anaerobic fungi in the equine hindgut. The insights gained will inform the development of novel strategies to promote indigenous anaerobic fungal communities in the equine hindgut, enabling optimization of the use of dietary forage as an energy source in equids. Reduction of the use of energy–dense diets and applying targeted nutritional strategies for optimizing microbial health may counteract processes in the gastrointestinal tract that have been associated with disease. Anaerobic fungi therefore offer the potential to enable significant advances to be made in the optimisation of the nutrition, health and welfare of all domesticated equids.

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Nutritional management of Hyperlipaemiam

Citation

Andy Durham, Alexandra K. Thiemann. 26 May 2015. Nutritional management of Hyperlipaemiam. Equine Veterinary Education.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
26 May 2015
DOI number: 
10.1111/eve.12366
Abstract

Hyperlipaemia is a disease resulting from excessive mobilisation of triglyceride stores such that plasma clearance processes become overwhelmed. Consequently increased plasma triglyceride concentrations (>5.6 mmol/l), visibly cloudy plasma and a sick, anorexic or hypophagic subject follow. Epidemiological studies have identified many predisposing and triggering factors and the attentive carer or veterinary surgeon should be alert to such risk factors so that the disease can be prevented, or at least identified and treated at an early stage. Hyperlipaemic subjects are invariably in a negative energy balance, and nutritional management therefore plays a central role in both the prevention and resolution of the disease.

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Nutrition and dental care of donkeys

Citation

Faith A. Burden, Nicole du Toit, Alexandra K. Thiemann. August 2013. Nutrition and dental care of donkeys. In Practice. 35. 405-410.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
1 August 2013
Journal: 
In Practice
Volume: 
35
Page numbers: 
405-410
DOI number: 
doi:10.1136/inp.f4367
Abstract

The domestic donkey is descended from wild asses and has evolved to live in some of the most inhospitable places on earth. Little research has been carried out to address the specific needs of the donkey, which has traditionally been viewed as a small horse. The donkey is different from the horse in many ways; of particular note is its ability to thrive on highly fibrous feeds. This article discusses the nutritional requirements of donkeys and how dental disease may play a role in determining their nutritional requirements.

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Digstible energy requirements of mexican donkeys fed oat straw and maize stover

Citation

L. Carretero-Roque, B. Colunga, David Smith, M. Gonzalez Ronquillo, A Solis-Medez, O. Castellan Ortega. September 2005. Digstible energy requirements of mexican donkeys fed oat straw and maize stover. Tropical Animal Health and Production. 37:Supp 1. 123-142.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
1 September 2005
Volume: 
37
Issue: 
Supp 1
Page numbers: 
123-142
DOI number: 
10.1007/s11250-005-9012-3
Abstract

The limited availability of food, together with the constraints that traditional management systems impose on the natural foraging behaviour of donkeys, often results in severe under-nutrition. Few studies have been conducted into the digestibility of different forages and little information exists on nutritional requirements of donkeys. In order to measure digestible energy requirements of donkeys under tropical conditions, an experiment was carried out at the Centre for Research in Agricultural Science (CICA) and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México located in the Toluca valley, Central México. Thirty-two donkeys of a body condition typical for Central México were divided into four groups of 8 animals each according to their sex and live weight: group 1 (Gl) comprised male donkeys below the average body weight (102 ± 5 kg); group 2 (G2) comprised male donkeys of average body weight (121.5 ± 4 kg); group 3 (G3) comprised female donkeys below average weight (111.8 ± 5 kg); and group 4 (G4) comprised female donkeys of average weight (127.6 ± 5 kg). A diet of oat straw or maize stover and 15% alfalfa hay was offered to meet exact maintenance requirements. The donkeys were monitored for 13 months. The live weight of all animals was recorded daily in order to monitor whether maintenance requirements were being met. Mean daily digestible energy (DE) requirements were measured during the winter, spring, summer and autumn of 2003–2004. Digestible energy requirements of all four sex and liveweight groups were significantly (p > 0.05) higher during the spring than during the other seasons of the year (13.5, 18.0, 10.4 and 14.3 MJ DE per day during winter, spring, summer and autumn, respectively). Predicted DE requirements of donkeys with a live weight range betweenn 90 and 150 kg using the data from the present study were less than those predicted using scaled-down horse feeding standards.

Online references

Dietary management to improve the gastrointestinal health of the donkey

Citation

Faith A. Burden, Nikki Stradling. 1 March 2013. Dietary management to improve the gastrointestinal health of the donkey. Presented at 6th European Equine Health and Nutrition Congress. (1 March - 2 March 2013). Ghent, Belgium.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Friday 1 March 2013
Abstract

The Donkey Sanctuary is a welfare organisation which cares for over 2500 donkeys. Donkeys may require additional feeding due to dental disease, ill health or previous neglect. Research in 2005 highlighted that impaction colics (IC) were a significant cause of mortality in resident donkeys (50 cases, 16% of total euthanasias or deaths) and gastric ulceration (GU) was common in donkeys examined post mortem (PM) (41%). Further studies established that feeding practices were contributing to the incidence of IC and GU. Cox et al.1, (2007) demonstrated that donkeys fed concentrate rations were at an increased risk of developing IC (Odds Ratio=2.5, P<0.001). Research in to GU by Burden et al.2, (2009) showed an increased risk of donkeys developing GU when fed cereal concentrate rations (OR=2.4, P<0.001).

Feeding practices were changed from 2008 onwards; prior to this cereal-based rations were fed in meals to donkeys requiring additional feed. They were replaced with fibre-based concentrates fed ad libutum or in small meals. The incidence of GU and IC have been monitored since these changes through PM examination of all animals that die or are euthanased. Prevalence at PM of IC in 2011(5% (n=13)) was significantly lower (P<0.001) than in 2005 (16% (n=50)), univariable logistic regression analysis indicated that donkeys fed concentrate rations are no longer at a greater risk of IC (P>0.05) when compared with those not fed concentrates. Active GU was seen in 7% (n=25) of donkeys at PM in 2011 compared to 41% in 2005, Univariable logistic regression analysis indicated that donkeys fed fibre-based concentrate rations were at no greater risk of developing GU than those not fed concentrates (P>0.05). During this time period the only significant management changes made were those related to feeding; however the effect of other variables on the prevalence of GU and IC at PM warrants further investigation.

1Cox et al. 2007 BMC Vet Res. 2;3:1

2Burden et al. 2009 animal, 3, 287-293

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The effect of pasture restriction on dry matter intake by foraging donkeys in the UK

Citation

Stephanie J. Wood, David Smith, Catherine J. Muir, J. Oliver, Derek Cuddeford. 30 October 2006. The effect of pasture restriction on dry matter intake by foraging donkeys in the UK. Presented at 5th International Colloquium on Working Equines. (30 October - 2 November 2006). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 30 October 2006
Abstract

Measuring daily food intake of foraging animals is essential if accurate feeding rations are to be implemented. The alkane technique, which has recently been validated in equines, now provides the opportunity to measure intake at pasture. The aims of this study were to determine the effects of herbage mass and grazing time allowance on dry matter intakes in mature donkeys in the UK. The effect of grazing time allowance on diet composition was also measured. Two study periods took place; period 1 when pasture was sparse (herbage mass 133.1±10 g dry matter/m2) and period 2 when pasture was more abundant (herbage mass 284.5±17.2 g dry matter/m2). Eighteen mature donkeys, male and female, were selected for the study and split into three grazing groups. Groups 1 and 2 were restricted to 8 and 12 hours grazing time per day, respectively. Group 3 was allowed 23 hours grazing time daily. Access to a yarded area and shelter was available to all donkeys during grazing periods. Barley straw was fed ad libitum to all donkeys and was available at all times. Each donkey was administered with 150 mg per day of an n-alkane marker Dotriacontane (C32) in the form of a labelled wheat biscuit fed three times daily for the 12 days of each study period. During period 1 grazing time allowance had no significant effect on daily DMI although the donkeys with 23 hours access did consume more than donkeys with only 12 and 8 hours grazing access (2.61, 2.54 and 2.26 kg, respectively). The proportion of grass and straw comprising daily intake was affected by grazing time allowance (P<0.05). Grass comprised 18% of daily intake for the 8 and 12-hour groups and 11% in the diet of the 23-hour group, although this difference was not significant. During period 2 daily DMI remained unaffected by grazing time allowance. The proportions of grass and straw within the diet were significantly affected (P<0.001), grass comprised 25 and 29% of daily intake for the 8 and 12-hour groups but made up 41% of daily intake of the 23-hour group. These results show that grazing time allowance has little effect on overall DMI but when given the opportunity donkeys increase their grass intake.

Proceedings
Publisher: 
The Brooke
Publication date: 
30 October 2006

Seasonal variation of digestible energy requirements of mature donkeys in the UK

Citation

Stephanie J. Wood, David Smith, Catherine J. Muir, Derek Cuddeford. 30 October 2006. Seasonal variation of digestible energy requirements of mature donkeys in the UK. Presented at 5th International Colloquium on Working Equines. (30 October - 2 November 2006). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 30 October 2006
Abstract

At present there are no published feeding guidelines specific to donkeys. Current recommendations are to feed 0.75 of horse energy needs on a body weight basis. However, it has been shown that donkeys have a greater digestive efficiency than horses and ponies and thus, feeding them as though they were small horses results in excess energy intake and, as a consequence they become obese. The formation of feeding guidelines begins with the estimation of the energy requirement for maintenance, as this is the value upon which nutrient requirements are related to. The aim of the study was to determine the maintenance digestible energy requirements of mature donkeys during each UK season. Twenty mature donkeys (10 male, 10 female) were selected for use in the study. The donkeys were fed a diet of hay and barley straw in quantities that were adjusted to maintain body weight. An equilibration period of minimum 16 days was followed by a five day total faecal collection; this was carried out for each season. Food and faecal samples were analysed for dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), digestible energy (DE), crude protein (CP), neutral-detergent fibre (NDF) and acid-detergent fibre (ADF); nutrient and energy intakes were calculated. There was a significant seasonal effect on all intakes except NDF and ADF. DM and DE intakes showed significant increases in winter compared to summer, rising by 42 and 35%, respectively. Digestible crude protein (DCP) intakes increased during winter and spring but were significantly lower in autumn compared to all other seasons. A strong seasonal effect was exerted on all in vivo digestibilities although there was no effect of sex. OM, NDF and ADF intakes were affected by sex with male animals having higher intakes compared to female animals. Comparison of these results with NRC (1989) horse requirements showed a considerably reduced requirement by donkeys for energy and protein and thus it was concluded that feeding tables specific to horses are not suitable for calculating donkey requirements.

Proceedings
Publisher: 
The Donkey Sanctuary
Publication date: 
30 October 2006

The effect of pasture restriction on dry matter intake of foraging donkeys in the UK

Citation

Stephanie J. Wood, David Smith. 20 June 2012. The effect of pasture restriction on dry matter intake of foraging donkeys in the UK. Presented at 6th European Workshop on Equine Nutrition. (20 June - 22 June 2012). Lisbon, Portugal.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Wednesday 20 June 2012
Abstract

Anecdotal evidence from animal charities indicates that the number of overweight donkeys in the UK is increasing. Donkeys commonly have daily access to pasture therefore knowledge of grass intake is essential if feeding advice is to be relevant. The effects of herbage mass and length of grazing time on diet composition and dry matter intake (DMI) by mature donkeys were determined.

There were two measurement periods: period 1 during autumn when pasture was sparse (herbage mass 92 + 7g DM/m2) and period 2 during summer when pasture was more abundant (herbage mass 197 + 12g DM/m2). Twenty mature donkeys were selected and split into three grazing groups (8, 12 and 23 h daily grazing access). Barley straw was fed ad libitum and each donkey was given 150mg per day of an n-alkane marker Dotriacontane (C32) for the 12 d of each study period.
Herbage mass significantly affected total DMI and diet composition. During summer DMI of donkeys in the 8 and 23h groups was significantly greater than during autumn (P<0.05). The proportion of grass in the diets of all donkeys was also greater in summer compared to autumn (P<0.001). Grazing time did not significantly influence total daily DMI during either season due to donkeys consuming more straw when grass intake was reduced. Restricting donkeys to 12h or less grazing per day in summer significantly (P<0.001) reduced their grass intake compared to that of donkeys with 23h access. When grazing sparse pastures (autumn) time allowed for grazing did not influence grass intake. The results show that time allowed for grazing per se was less important than the herbage mass available to the donkey in terms of grass DMI.

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