Quantifying poor working equid welfare in Nepalese brick kilns using a welfare assessment tool


J. B. Rodrigues, Rebekah Sullivan, Andrew Judge, Stuart L. Norris, Faith A. Burden. 28 October 2020. Quantifying poor working equid welfare in Nepalese brick kilns using a welfare assessment tool. Veterinary Record.

Publication details
Publication date: 
28 October 2020
Veterinary Record
DOI number: 

Background Across Asia the brick-kiln industry is expanding. In Nepal, urban dwelling has increased in recent years, raising requirement for low-cost, mass produced bricks to meet the population needs. Working equids (WEs) play a key role in non-mechanised kilns. Assessing the welfare of these equids is the starting point to addressing concerns. In line with One Welfare principles, the health and welfare of animals, people and the kiln environment are interlinked.

Materials and methods In December 2019, 119 WEs were assessed in seven brick kilns in three districts of Nepal, using the Equid Assessment Research and Scoping tool, developed by The Donkey Sanctuary. The objective was to measure welfare at the start of the brick kiln season.

Results Horses were the predominant species of WE. Hazardous housing and environments were seen in all kilns. Behaviour responses were mixed. Owner responses and animal examination indicated poor working conditions. Signs of harmful practice were evident in most animals. The majority were underweight, with poor general health, skin alterations and musculoskeletal issues.

Conclusion The welfare of equids prior to starting brick kiln work is poor, posing significant concerns for the actual working period. Intervention to enhance health and welfare is required.

Online references

Understanding factors which influence the welfare of working equids in arid and tropical climates

University of Plymouth

Continuation of previous Protection from the Elements project, to extend work to cover arid and tropical climates.

Core methodology: 
Data collection for baseline study of shelter seeking behaviour in Portugal and Spain, plus working equid owner questionnaire. Collect data on current working equid management practices and protection from the elements (PFE) in Mescal growing regions in Mexico with comparison to communities in Vera Cruz.

2020 update of the global donkey and mule population


Donkeys and mules support some of the worlds poorest communities. This paper is an update to a previously published study. This investigation focuses on global, regional and country level trends in donkey a mule populations to understand how this has developed between 1997 and 2018. Results show that the general trend identified in a previous paper analysing data between 1961 and 1997 is continuing with the number of donkeys globally increasing at a rate of ~1% per annum, whilst mule population are in decline at a rate of ~2% per annum. Results also suggest that the trend identified in the original paper are still evident today with the largest increases in donkey population seen in the sub-Saharan African region and greatest reduction noted in Eastern Europe with these two regions having different socio-economic drivers. This study highlights that multifaceted socio-economic drivers influence changes in donkey and mule populations demonstrating the complexity of designing targeted one-welfare approaches.

Core methodology: 
The FAO live donkey and mule population information will be compared across regions over time to understand where there have been significant increase or decrease in population size and distribution.
The aim of this project is to quantify changes in global donkey and mule population between 1997 and 2018 using FAO data.
The objective of this project is to better understand changes in donkey and mule population distributions based on open source data.
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