behaviour

Training Compassionate Vets for Calmer Donkeys

Citation
Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Tuesday 3 October 2017
Abstract

INTRODUCTION
Working donkeys and mules often require veterinary intervention for a variety of clinical problems. It is crucial that vets, animal health professionals and other equine professionals have a sound knowledge of donkey and mule behaviour to enable them to assess the animals and provide treatment in a species-accurate, humane and compassionate way.
HANDLING TECHNIQUES AFFECT EQUINE WELFARE
The way in which donkeys and mules are handled can affect their welfare since quality of life is measured not only by physiological factors but also by emotional and affective states (1). Negative interactions can contribute to the development of fearful behavioural responses which can persist for a long time after the interaction takes place. Correct application of behaviour modification techniques can positively develop the human-animal bond and help the animal to remain calm during required veterinary procedures, often meaning that painful methods of restraint are not required. Simple techniques for approaching equines, taking rectal temperatures, using stethoscopes and appropriate restraint can, and should, be used to reduce stress for all aspects of a veterinary examination and treatment.
HUMAN BODY LANGUAGE
Correct approach to an equine patient is vital to minimise stress and to prevent a flight response. Equines are sensitive animals who can detect very subtle body language signals. The body language and behaviour of the veterinary surgeon and animal handler can influence the animal’s behaviour; approach with calm, relaxed body language and allow the animal the opportunity to investigate you.
A relaxed, calm approach:
• Rounded shoulders
• Relaxed muscle tone, gentle movements
• No direct eye contact
• Indirect approach from the animal’s shoulder
• Allowing time for the animal to investigate
PRACTICAL APPLICATION
Using a stethoscope
• Allow the animal the chance to have a look at your equipment
• Introduce the stethoscope to the animal’s body gradually, starting in an area that is not too sensitive
• Stroke or scratch the animal to provide reassurance as you work
Taking a rectal temperature
• Help the animal to relax by approaching steadily from the side
• Scratch the animal along his body and on either side of his tail to encourage relaxation
• Do some gentle lifts of the tail before lifting to insert the thermometer
LESS IS MORE
When considering methods of restraint for veterinary examination consider that often ‘less is more’. Distressed and fearful animals are more likely to display erratic behaviours and become more likely to cause injury to themselves or their handlers (2). If calm, consistent handling is not sufficient to keep an equine calm during examination, and restraint is required, the least invasive and minimally aversive restraint options, such as a head hold or the raising of one leg, should be attempted first.
Ear twitches should not be used on equines; a recent study (3) found a significant increase in sympathetic tone and salivary cortisol levels when an ear twitch is applied and it also led to the development of avoidance behaviour indicating the aversive-ness of this procedure. Equines can become sensitised to aversive events or procedures after very few exposures (4) therefore aversive procedures should be avoided wherever possible and stress experienced during veterinary procedures must be kept to an absolute minimum.

The above was presented as a poster

Assessment of donkey temperament and the influence of the home environment

Citation

Jane French. Assessment of donkey temperament and the influence of the home environment. Applied Animal Behaviour. 36. 249-257.

Authors
Publication details
Volume: 
36
Page numbers: 
249-257
DOI number: 
10.1016/0168-1591(93)90014-G
Abstract

The temperament of individual donkeys being sent to foster homes from the Donkey Sanctuary was evaluated with a calibrated-line rating method using eight pairs of contrary adjectives to describe traits, e.g. calm-nervous. The donkeys' attitude to other animals and people was also recorded. A factor analysis of normalized scores for the trait adjective pairs produced two factors: 'obduracy' and 'vivacity'. Once in their foster homes, the donkeys appeared more overtly outgoing. One explanation of this change in temperament is that pairs of donkeys in foster homes experience less social intimidation
than those living in groups. The donkeys' attitude towards other donkeys and people was unaffected by their change in surroundings, but their behaviour towards other animals could change.
Temperament assessment can assist in matching potential pets with homes, e.g. donkeys that were perceived as liking humans had a higher 'vivacity' score and donkeys that were reported to like dogs, had a lower 'obduracy' score.

Online references

A novel approach to pain recognition in donkeys

Citation

Gabriela Olmos, Faith A. Burden. A novel approach to pain recognition in donkeys. Presented at 14th World Congress on Pain, Sattelite Symposia: Pain and Pain Management in Non-Human Species. (27 August - 31 August 2012). Milan, Italy.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Sunday 26 August 2012
Abstract

Pain due lesions and clinical conditions is one of the main welfare concerns of the more than 42 millions donkeys that presently exist in the world. Yet, the knowledge to gauge pain in donkeys is lacking, misunderstood and/or not validated (Ashley, 2005).

Pain (yes/no/uncertain) and its severity (VAS; no pain=0 to worst pain=100mm) was assessed in 403 donkeys’ ante-mortem (ATM) and post-mortem (PTM). Also behaviours/signs (BS) and pain related lesions (PRL) were assessed ATM and PTM, respectively. Using principal component analysis the more than 53 BS and 238 PRL observed were narrowed to 58 biologically meaningful component or groups (14 BS and 44 PRL components, respectively). Components were used as risk factors in multiple regression analysis to identify which BS and/or PRL are commonly used in clinician’s (veterinary/pathologist) decision making process to determine whether a donkey ‘is’ (i.e. ATM) or ‘was’ (i.e. PTM) in pain and its severity (mild to severe). Furthermore, multiple correlations were made to understand which BS relate significantly with specific PRL and how.

A cross tabulation between pain ATM and PTM, where pain related lesions are used as a quasi-gold standard of pain assessment; identify that 2 in 10 donkeys are wrongly assumed as in NO-PAIN. Moreover, only 43% of the donkey observations are used by clinicians to make their opinion on donkey pain and its severity (i.e. 7 BS and 18 PRL components were significantly associated with pain as stated by clinicians). Yet, multiple correlations showed 20 plausible biologically meaningful relationships between BS and PRL; some currently not used by clinicians.

This methodology, previously successfully used in humans (Gregory, 2010) is novel to donkey veterinary medicine and warrants further research to consolidate findings. Nonetheless, the achieved correlation list of behaviours vs. pathologies is a significant work with valid applications in donkey pain identification and prognosis.

Ashley FH, Waterman-Pearson AE, Whay HR (2005) Behavioural assessment of pain in horses and donkeys: application to clinical practice and future studies, Equine Vet J, 37(6), 565 - 575.

Gregory NG (2010) Relationships between pathology and pain severities: a review. Animal Welfare 19, 437-448.

Online references

Mind the gap: Spatial perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple detour task

Citation

Britta Osthaus, Faith A. Burden, Ian Hocking, Leanne Proops. Mind the gap: Spatial perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple detour task. Presented at ASAB Interdisciplinary Workshop 2012: Physical Cognition and Problem Solving. (27 June - 28 June 2012). Birmingham, UK.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Thursday 28 June 2012
Abstract

We compared spatial problem solving abilities in the mule (Equus asinus x Equus caballus) with that of its parent species to assess the effects of hybridization on cognition. In a detour task the animals(N=48) were required to make a detour through a gap at one end of a straight barrier in order to reach a visible target. After one, two, three or four repeats (A trials), the gap was moved to the opposite end of the barrier (B trials) and deviations from the straight line and the latency to crossing the barrier were recorded. Mules performed significantly above chance level on their first detour, unlike the other two species. We discuss our results with reference to hybrid vigour and to the flexibility of problem solving strategies with regards to species differences.

Online references

Stubborn donkey or smart ass?

Tagged:  
Citation

Ben Hart. Stubborn donkey or smart ass?. Presented at Donkey Conference. (8 May - 9 May 2012). London, UK.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Wednesday 9 May 2012
Event name: 
Donkey Conference
Abstract

Does the evolutionary history of donkeys lead to behaviours that are misunderstood and contribute to the donkeys’ reputation for being stubborn?

The behaviour of donkeys is an understudied subject. The donkey’s behaviour is commonly misunderstood principally because their behaviour is compared to that of the horse, rather than viewed as a separate species. Mistreatment of donkeys takes place because of the subtle behaviour patterns and stoic nature which are overlooked by handlers and observers who are more familiar with horse behaviour. By looking at the domesticated donkeys’ evolutionary niche and the behaviour of both free living donkeys and domesticated donkeys it possible to explain the different behaviours of donkeys and to lay to rest their reputation for stubbornness and their misrepresentation as small horses with big ears.

This presentation will examine the behaviour of donkeys in the wild, the effects of environment on social structure in Asiatic and African asses, and the effects on behaviour of solitary living and territory guarding both in the wild and domestic situation.

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.

Authors
Publication details
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.

Online references

A case study to investigate how behaviour in donkeys changes through progression of disease

Citation

Gabriela Olmos, Gemma McDonald, Florence Elphick, Neville G. Gregory, Faith A. Burden. A case study to investigate how behaviour in donkeys changes through progression of disease. Presented at 45th Congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology. (31 July - 4 August 2011). Indianapolis, USA.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Sunday 31 July 2011
Abstract

Donkeys have a limited repertoire of non-specific signs displayed when in pain or sick. This study looked closely at donkey behaviour during the progression of different diseases with the aim of improving pain and sickness recognition.

Video footage of a group of 79 donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary was obtained for 6 months; where 45 diseased cases observed. Due data completes, four cases were selected [Cases A) with respiratory disease due to herpes virus (n=2) and Cases B) end-stage cases (hyperlipaemia, n=1; chronic laminitis, n=1)] plus four healthy controls (n=4). Cases A were observed for 8hrs on day -10 and -1 prior to disease onset (day 0 = first veterinary visit) and during treatment (day 1, 5 and 10). Cases B were observed for 8hrs on day -7, -3 and on the day of euthanasia (day 0). Total time (minutes) performing 47 different behaviours were compared between (painful/sick vs. healthy) and within donkeys using chi-square or fisher’s exacts tests.

Diseased donkeys in cases A and B spent on average 10% more time (range, 3 - 17%, p<0.01) with a lowered head carriage compared to controls. Conversely, they spent 15% less time (range 6 - 34%, P<0.04) with their ears in combinations (i.e. each ear in opposite direction), thus meaning ears were more static and unresponsive. Ear changes were subtle but were the earliest indicators of pain/sickness in the observed donkeys. Cases B compared to the controls spent 31% more time in recumbency (range 7 - 60%, p<0.01), and 40% less time eating (range 1 - 64%, p<0.01). The reduction in total eating time was not substituted by any other oral behaviour (e.g. drinking, grooming, licking, and investigative behaviours), where drinking and grooming were greatly affected in the donkey with hyperlipaemia. Finally, abdominal effort was only observed in cases A and tended to reduce with time on treatment (p=0.06).

Donkeys are working animals of great importance worldwide, and these results highlight useful behavioural changes that can be used as monitoring signs of pain/sickness in these animals. The potential use of these signs warrants further studies in greater and more diverse donkey populations.

Online references
Syndicate content