welfare

Cultural “blind spots,” social influence and the welfare of working donkeys in brick kilns in Northern India

Citation

Tamlin Watson, Laura M. Kubasiewicz, Natasha Chamberlain, Caroline Nye, Zoe Raw, Faith A. Burden. 29 April 2020. Cultural “blind spots,” social influence and the welfare of working donkeys in brick kilns in Northern India. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 7. 214.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
29 April 2020
Volume: 
7
Page numbers: 
214
DOI number: 
10.3389/fvets.2020.00214
Abstract

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work across the globe to improve the welfare of working equids. Despite decades of veterinary and other interventions, welfare issues persist with equids working in brick kilns. Engagement with all stakeholders is integral to creating abiding improvements to working equid welfare as interventions based purely on reactive measures fail to provide sustainable solutions. Equid owners, particularly those in low to middle-income countries (LMICs), may have issues such as opportunity, capacity, gender or socio-economic status, overriding their ability to care well for their own equids. These “blind spots” are frequently overlooked when organizations develop intervention programs to improve welfare. This study aims to highlight the lives of the poorest members of Indian society, and will focus on working donkeys specifically as they were the only species of working equids present in the kilns visited. We discuss culture, status, religion, and social influences, including insights into the complexities of cultural “blind spots” which complicate efforts by NGOs to improve working donkey welfare when the influence of different cultural and societal pressures are not recognized or acknowledged. Employing a mixed-methods approach, we used the Equid Assessment Research and Scoping (EARS) tool, a questionnaire based equid welfare assessment tool, to assess the welfare of working donkeys in brick kilns in Northern India. In addition, using livelihoods surveys and semi-structured interviews, we established owner demographics, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion and their personal accounts of their working lives and relationships to their donkeys. During transcript analysis six themes emerged: caste, ethnicity, inherited knowledge; social status, and impacts of ethnic group and caste; social status and gender; migration and shared suffering; shared suffering, compassion; religious belief, species hierarchy. The lives led by these, marginalized communities of low status are driven by poverty, exposing them to exploitation, lack of community cohesion, and community conflicts through migratory, transient employment. This vulnerability influences the care and welfare of their working donkeys, laying bare the inextricable link between human and animal welfare. Cultural and social perspectives, though sometimes overlooked, are crucial to programs to improve welfare, where community engagement and participation are integral to their success.

Full paper is available Open Access.

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The Contribution of Blended Learning in the Promotion of Farm Animal Welfare

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Date presented: 
Thursday 19 September 2019
Abstract

In Western industrialised nations, within the domain of education and training, digital is now the default, where emerging technologies have increased connectedness to such a degree that they have driven a significant transformation in pedagogical methodologies. This is primarily due to the ease of access to smartphones and other connected personal devices. As a result, the constraints of location and time are no longer great barriers to learning, with learning possible to access in any mode and almost in any place and at any time. For geographically large countries such as China, these technologies can link the national to the international, connect city to city and the urban to the rural.

This paper will review existing blended learning approaches and how technology has influenced pedagogical approaches to teaching and training around animal welfare. A key component in the design of online learning resources is that it facilitates active design, production and of content. This can be shared in numerous formats, including text, images, sound, video, and online seminars and discussions, all of which are easily disseminated to potentially huge audiences. Such a ‘connected pedagogy’ also relies on establishing an environment that is characterised by meaningful engagement, problem-based learning, and peer-evaluation. The paper will review the approaches to be adopted by the Donkey Sanctuary on its learning platform and will demonstrate the design and implementation of and learning and training resources with specific reference to animal welfare and biosecurity.

The presentation concludes by placing animal welfare within the context of formal, moral education in China and how the philosophical and historical influences of Confucianism and Socialism have presented, as a key component, the maintenance of harmony between living and natural environments. This has made China an active promoter of sustainable development, an aspiration to which blended learning has much to contribute.

Italian donkey milk farms: a snapshot of welfare conditions

Citation

Francesca Dai, Giulia Segati, Emmanuela Dalla Costa, Faith A. Burden, Andrew Judge, Michela Minero. 21 October 2019. Italian donkey milk farms: a snapshot of welfare conditions. Poster presented at European Congress of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 21 October 2019
Abstract

Donkey milk is precious for paediatric patients suffering from multiple-allergies and this research aims to investigate welfare of donkeys used to produce milk in Italy.

Twelve farms were visited between June and September 2015 by two female assessors, aged 23 - 31 years. The welfare assessment was conducted on a representative sample of animals, using the AWIN welfare assessment protocol for donkeys, comprising 22 animal based indicators. A total of 257 donkeys (females = 131; pregnant females = 73 gelding = 1; stallions = 52) of different breeds, aged between one and 360 months (mean = 65.70 ± 61.92) were assessed. Data was collected using ODK application and analysed with IBM SPSS Statistic 23. The proportion of donkeys with different scores for each welfare indicator was calculated.

On the average, the assessed donkeys enjoyed good welfare status. Most of the donkeys (80.2%) showed a good nutritional status (BCS = 3); the others tended to be thin (12.8% with BCS = 2) rather than fat (6.2% with BCS = 4). The main issue highlighted was hoof care: 18.7% of the donkeys showed signs of neglect. All the donkeys could express normal behaviour and interact with conspecifics. Most of the donkeys showed positive reactions to human-animal relationship tests; 20.9% donkeys were not used to be restrained with a head-collar, thus it was not possible to assess them.

Even though no major welfare issues were found, some management practices require consideration. Education of farmers could prove useful to improve dairy donkey welfare.

Shelter seeking behaviour of healthy donkeys and mules in a hot climate

Citation

Emily Haddy, Faith A. Burden. 7 November 2019. Shelter seeking behaviour of healthy donkeys and mules in a hot climate. Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
7 November 2019
DOI number: 
10.1016/j.applanim.2019.104898
Abstract

Exposure to environmental factors such as high temperatures and solar radiation levels present a welfare concern for many domestic equids. Understanding how these factors influence the shelter use of healthy equids can inform welfare guidelines. While there is research assessing horses’ responses to hot, dry climates, the use of shelter by healthy, semi-free ranging donkeys and mules has not been assessed. We observed the shelter seeking behaviour (SSB) of 109 donkeys and 21 mules, with free access to constructed shelters, across two locations during summer in Southern Spain. The location of each equid, either utilising a constructed shelter, outside unprotected or using natural protection, was observed. This was recorded alongside measures of environmental conditions including temperature, lux, wind speed and level of insect harassment. Equids were observed using some form of protection from the elements in 39% of observations. Increasing temperatures and lux levels predicted increased shelter use whereas temperature and wind speed were key predictors of outside protection use. Compared to donkeys, shelter seeking by mules was more sensitive to changes in a number of environmental factors including lux, temperature and level of insect harassment. Results indicate that rates of protection use are quite high in these conditions and that shelters are utilised under particular environmental conditions: high temperatures, high lux levels and increased wind speeds, indicating they are likely to confer a significant welfare advantage.

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Human-animal relations in the Brazilian Northeast: a socio-anthropological case study of donkey trade

Status
Status: 
Ongoing
Applicants
Collaborators
Details
When conducted: 
15 January 2019 - 30 April 2020
Country: 
Brazil
Core methodology: 
In-depth semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and social actors. This will be complemented by document analysis of relevant materials including, advertisements, manuals, background papers, letters and memoranda, newspaper articles, press releases, organisational or institutional reports and various public records. Statistical data published by official Brazilian institutions will also be reviewed, in order to support to the analysis.
Aims: 
This 16-month project aims to contribute to ongoing studies developed in partnership with The Donkey Sanctuary and the Veterinary and Animal Science Faculty at the University of Sao Paulo, concerning the donkey skin trade. Believing that interdisciplinarity is one of the best strategies to address multidimensional problems, this research project proposes a socio-anthropological approach to identify public perceptions of donkeys and the threats they face in the Brazilian Northeast, mainly in the state of Bahia.
Objectives: 
The specific objectives are: 1. To identify social actors (individuals or organisations) related to donkey trade and donkey protection in the Brazilian Northeast, especially in the state of Bahia; 2. To contextualise the scenarios where donkey trade takes place in Brazilian Northeast; 3. To identify and analyse personal and collective perceptions (social representations) constructed about donkeys (and the donkey trade) by different actors, including: rural populations; animal health authorities at local and national levels; legal authorities; animal rights organisations and welfare representatives.

EARS - Equid assessment research & scoping tool: a new approach to analyse, understand and respond to equid welfare problems worldwide

Citation

J. B. Rodrigues, Joe Ryding, Andrew Judge, A. Chapman, E. L. Hales, Zoe Raw, Faith A. Burden. 17 September 2019. EARS - Equid assessment research & scoping tool: a new approach to analyse, understand and respond to equid welfare problems worldwide. Poster presented at Fourth Annual Meeting of Animal Welfare Research Network. (16 September - 17 September 2019). Bristol, United Kingdom.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Tuesday 17 September 2019
Abstract

The capacity for decision-making and intervention in any project related to equid welfare should be based on a knowledge of the real issues affecting these animals worldwide, regardless of the tasks performed. This approach is even more important when new emerging economic activities around equids - e.g. donkey skin trade - are particularly challenging in terms of animal welfare.

The Equid Assessment Research & Scoping (EARS) Tool is a questionnaire developed by The Donkey Sanctuary, in collaboration with World Horse Welfare, with the main purpose to provide reliable information about the general health and welfare of equids worldwide. EARS is primarily designed to obtain individual information about an equid and its surrounding environment, or from a group of equids in similar conditions, through cumulative repetition. It is organized into 18 indicators, each one divided in to different categories, and each category with a specific set of questions. The EARS Tool allows the development of different protocols, by choosing the correct set of questions that best fit the inherent needs.

Data collection and preliminary analysis of data in a simple, fast and effective way are also a central aspect of EARS, by using open source software (OSS) throughout the data collection cycle: Open Data Kit Collect to log information in the field; R to parse, analyze and filter this information; and R Shiny to disseminate the results through dashboards. These OSS products allow off-line data collection with initial overview results presented as soon as the user uploads their surveys when back online.

This new tool contributes to a better understanding of the underlying reasons behind poor equid welfare, and allows the design of evidence-based strategies that not only identify and tackle the real causes of problems, but also allow the organizations to measure the impact of decisions taken over time.

Between welfare and conservation: understanding ‘risk’ in relation to feral and free-roaming donkeys

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Citation

Cara Clancy. 2 September 2019. Between welfare and conservation: understanding ‘risk’ in relation to feral and free-roaming donkeys. Poster presented at 2nd International Wild Equid Conference. (1 September - 5 September 2019). Prague, Czech Republic.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 2 September 2019
Abstract

For thousands of years, the donkey (Equus asinus) has played an essential role in human society, underpinning the earliest forms of civilisation, providing critical trade networks, and contributing to modern western history through the colonisation of the ‘New World’. Yet, with the advent of motorised transport and agricultural machinery the role of the donkey has diminished in many parts of the world. No longer considered economically viable, donkeys have been turned loose over the years and left to fend for themselves (Mitchell, 2018). These feral and semi-feral donkeys are domesticated animals that have managed to re-adapt, survive and reproduce on their own, without human management. Australia now holds the world’s largest population of feral donkeys – thought to be around 5 million individuals. Here, they are framed as pests; no longer seen as useful to society or fitting for the landscapes in which they dwell. In these situations, donkeys can suffer due to local mistreatment or government attempts to contain the problem, as is the case with the controversial Judas Collar programme in Australia (Bough, 2006). Currently, very little is known about the welfare status of feral and free-roaming donkeys globally. Due to their ambiguous status (being neither owned nor wild) there is often a grey area with respect to their legal status, rights and protections. This paper suggests that more research is needed to understand how welfare issues are defined and prioritised in relation to feral donkeys – both at the individual level and population level.

Shelter seeking behaviour of donkeys and horses in a temperate climate

Citation

Leanne Proops, Britta Osthaus, Nikki Bell, Sarah Long, Kristin Hayday, Faith A. Burden. March 2019. Shelter seeking behaviour of donkeys and horses in a temperate climate. Journal of Veterinary Behavior.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
29 March 2019
DOI number: 
10.1016/j.jveb.2019.03.008
Abstract

Domestic donkeys descended from wild asses, adapted to the semi-arid climates of Africa, whereas domestic horses originate from more temperate areas of Eurasia. Despite this difference in evolutionary history, modern domestic equids can be found throughout the world, in a wide range of conditions, many of which are very different from their natural environments. To explore the protection from the elements that different equid species may require in the temperate climate of the UK, the shelter seeking behaviour of 135 donkeys and 73 horses was assessed across a period of 16 months, providing a total of 13,513 observations. The location of each animal (inside a constructed shelter, outside unprotected or using natural shelter) was recorded alongside measures of environmental conditions including temperature, wind speed, lux, precipitation and level of insect challenge. Statistical models revealed clear differences in the constructed-shelter-seeking behaviour of donkeys and horses. Donkeys sought shelter significantly more often at lower temperatures whereas horses tended to move inside when the temperature rose above 20°C. Donkeys were more affected by precipitation, with the majority of them moving indoors when it rained. Donkeys also showed a higher rate of shelter use when wind speed increased to moderate, while horses remained outside. Horses appeared to be more affected by insect challenge, moving inside as insect harassment outside increased. There were also significant differences in the use of natural shelter by the two species, with donkeys using natural shelter relatively more often to shelter from rain and wind and horses seeking natural shelter relatively more frequently when sunny. These results reflect donkeys’ and horses’ adaptation to different climates and suggest that the shelter requirements of these two equid species differ, with donkeys seeking additional protection from the elements in temperate climates.
Available online prior to publication in press.

Highlights

  • We observed the shelter seeking behaviour of donkeys and horses in a temperate climate.
  • Overall donkeys sought shelter more frequently than horses, particularly when cold (<10˚C), rainy and windy.
  • Constructed shelter use by horses was low but they started to move inside as temperatures rose (>20˚C).
  • Horses sought natural shelter more than donkeys when sunny and appeared more affected by insects.
  • Differences in shelter seeking behaviour appear to reflect donkeys’ and horses’ adaptation to different climates.
Online references

Donkeys and humans – how the use of donkeys as livestock units on agriculture schemes in Ireland potentially influences government-NGO interactions

Citation
Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 7 May 2018
Abstract

Background
In many parts of the developing world, donkeys are kept as working animals and used primarily for transport (of goods and people) and agricultural activities (such as ploughing). In these regions, donkeys are of particular value due to their low purchasing price, ease of management and efficiency of work output. Similarly in the past in Ireland, donkeys proved to have innumerable uses, being capable of surviving and working on terrain that was unsuitable for horses, which latter, people could not afford in any case. Today, donkeys are mainly kept either as companion animals or as Livestock Units (LUs) registered on agricultural area aid schemes to aid in the collection of farm subsidies. In 2017 the Department of Agriculture (DAFM) who administer the subsidy scheme, also made an ex gratia payment of €120,000 to The Donkey Sanctuary to support its work in rescue/rehoming, in controlling indiscriminate breeding and in providing veterinary services to privately owned donkeys in Ireland.

Methods
Information was gathered concerning the mapping of areas eligible for subsidy payments, the numbers of applicants, the place of origin of applicants and the numbers of registered donkeys (and other equidae) these applicants used as LUs for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. The value of payments made to applicants registering equidae as LUs during these years was also gathered. The Donkey Sanctuary provided information regarding their interactions with private-donkey owners including subsidy applicants – the collection of background information, the provision of veterinary services and the rehoming of donkeys to applicants who might register them as LUs.

Results
Subsidy year Total equine-applicant payments €uro value Horse/donkey Livestock Unit numbers Total equine Livestock Unit numbers
2010 € 4,030,377 10480
2011 € 6,214,130 18447
horses donkeys
2012 € 2,374,996 4546 2222 6768
2013 € 2,284,832 3564 2593 6157
2014 € 2,305,650 2606 2544 5150

Table 1. €uro value of ANC equine-applicant payments and the numbers of equines registered as Livestock Units (LUs) on ANC during the years 2010 to 2014

In the first 11 months of 2017, The Donkey Sanctuary provided donkey welfare improvement services to 176 owners of 700 private donkeys including circa 90 castrations, 450 farriery, 50 dental treatments, 130 identification and 60 husbandry including nutritional advice. They rehomed approximately 40 donkeys to subsidy applicants who might use them as LUs. The detail will be presented.

Conclusion
DAFM administer an agriculture subsidy scheme which permits the use of donkeys as Livestock Units but does not have an ostensible animal welfare function; never-the-less they make ex gratia animal welfare payments to NGOs such as The Donkey Sanctuary in support of services targeted at the owners of private donkeys. This provides an opportunity for government and NGOs to engage in such a way that public monies might be better used to support animal welfare improvements.

Monitoring herd health in donkeys using welfare assessment and clinical records

Citation

Alexandra K. Thiemann, Karen Rickards. 22 September 2018. Monitoring herd health in donkeys using welfare assessment and clinical records. Presented at 14th International Conference Equitation Science. (21 September - 24 September 2018). Rome, Italy. 63.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Saturday 22 September 2018
Abstract

The Donkey Sanctuary (DS) is an equine charity whose mission is to “transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and the people that depend upon them worldwide”. In the UK, The DS cares for over 2000 donkeys on a number of farms varying in size from 250-580 animals. The farms aim to rehome up to 10% of their herd annually to guardian (private) homes or donkey assisted therapy centres. The farms also provide a show case for our work to visiting professionals and the public. Welfare of the donkeys on farms is critical to the credibility of the Donkey Sanctuary. Using welfare-based criteria alongside health records has enabled the teams to pro-actively monitor donkey welfare, refine management practices, re-direct budgets and track progress. Since 2017, the DS has been using the stage 1 AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators), which are animal and resource based measures. AWIN is used on a quarterly basis on all farms to evaluate the following AWIN criteria: Appropriate nutrition (body condition score BCS), Absence of injuries (lameness, joint swelling, skin change, prolapse), Absence of disease (hair coat, faecal staining, ocular/nasal discharge, abnormal breathing, cheek teeth palpation), Absence of Pain (hoof neglect, lameness, hot branding), and Human-Animal Relationship (avoidance behaviours, tail tuck). The donkeys chosen are a random 10% at each visit using a named list of donkeys. This data is evaluated alongside information collected from a computer based Animal Management System, where vets input clinical conditions in pre-determined categories to monitor physical health - the main ones aligned are BCS, lameness, colic, hyperlipaemia, sarcoid, eye disease, and mortality rate. Over 1 year at 1 farm with 580 donkeys: AWIN showed (i) loss of weight control over summer with total animals BCS >4 (scale 1-5) increasing from 13% in January to 31% in September, (ii) lameness peaking on turnout (from 6-15% herd), (iii) skin disease (relating to lice burden) decreasing from 32% (winter) to 7 % summer, (iv) hoof neglect (thrush, abscesses) remaining high all year at >50%, (v) avoidance behaviours constant at about 12%- relating to new animals arriving and calm animals leaving. Data is recorded in Excel, and presented graphically and by written documentation.
Quarterly meetings with the farm manager and staff enable timely feedback.
Welfare can be benchmarked across farms and improvements aimed for. AWIN is validated and straightforward to use.

Lay person message: Traditional herd health monitoring is based on veterinary morbidity/ mortality figures using historical data from computerised records. The Donkey Sanctuary has responsibility for a large number of rescue and rehomed donkeys on farms whose welfare is high priority. The DS has introduced a validated welfare assessment tool to be used four times a year, to monitor animal and resource based measures of welfare (AWIN). This allows information to captured in real time rather than retrospectively and adverse welfare can be identified. Using this tool allows evidence based management changes to be made.

Proceedings
Number of pages: 
63
Publisher: 
Pisa University Press
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