welfare assessment

Comparison of working equid welfare across three regions of Mexico

Citation

Emily Haddy, Faith A. Burden, Omar Prado-Ortiz, Humberto Zappi, Zoe Raw, Leanne Proops. 13 September 2020. Comparison of working equid welfare across three regions of Mexico. Equine Veterinary Journal.

Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
13 September 2020
DOI number: 
10.1111/evj.13349
Abstract

Background: Factors affecting working equid welfare are wide-ranging and reflect cultural, economic and climatic conditions, the type of work equids are used for, and individual differences in the practices of their handlers. In Mexico working equids are widely used for facilitating agricultural activities, however, welfare issues are common.

Objectives: To assess working equids across three communities in Mexico, identify predominant welfare problems and document how these problems vary across locations and associated working roles and species type.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Methods: The study combined the administration of a wide-ranging questionnaire to equid handlers/owners and a welfare assessment of their animal. 120 equid owners were asked about their equid management practices, the working conditions and health status of their animal. The welfare of their equids (56 donkeys, 7 mules, 57 horses) was assessed by evaluating body condition, signs of illness or injury, and behavioural indicators.

Results: Welfare varied by species, working role, sex and location. The poorest welfare was seen in one of the two arid regions (the third location having a tropical climate). Donkeys had poorer welfare than horses, and equids used for packing had poorer welfare than those used for riding and agroforestry. Overall poor body condition and wounds were the most common problems seen.

Main limitations: Work type, species type and location strongly co-varied, thus the impact of each factor could not be assessed in isolation. The sample size was relatively small.

Conclusions: Results showed significant regional variations in welfare, suggesting that environmental and/or cultural variations are producing a major effect on welfare.

Published online ahead of print.

Online references

Documenting the welfare and role of working equids in rural communities of Portugal and Spain

Citation

Emily Haddy, J. B. Rodrigues, Zoe Raw, Faith A. Burden, Leanne Proops. 2 May 2020. Documenting the welfare and role of working equids in rural communities of Portugal and Spain. Animals. 10:5. 790.

Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
2 May 2020
Journal: 
Animals
Volume: 
10
Issue: 
5
Page numbers: 
790
DOI number: 
10.3390/ani10050790
Abstract

Recently, the need for a more holistic approach to welfare assessment has been highlighted. This is particularly pertinent in the case of working equids who provide vital support for human livelihoods, often in low- to middle-income countries, yet suffer from globally low standards of welfare. This study aimed to provide insight into the welfare status and traditional use of working equids in rural Western European communities using the new EARS welfare tool, designed to provide a broad view of the welfare of working equids and the context in which they are found. Other questions on the topics of equid management practices, social transmission of expertise, environmental stressors, and traditions, alongside physical and behavioural welfare assessments were also included to explore the impact of these wide-ranging factors on an understudied population of working equids. The protocol was trialled on 60 working equid owners from communities in Portugal and Spain where, despite the decline in traditional agricultural practices and livestock keeping, donkeys and mules remain working animals. Many owners stated that the help donkeys provided was invaluable, and donkeys were considered to be important for both farming and daily life. However, participants also recognised that the traditional agricultural way of life was dying out, providing insights into the traditional practices, community structure, and beliefs of equid owners. Questions investigating the social networks and social transfer of information within the villages were effective in finding local sources of equid knowledge. Overall, welfare was deemed fair, and the protocol enabled the identification of the most prevalent welfare problems within the communities studied, in this case obesity and the use of harmful practices. The findings suggest that the new protocol was feasible and detail how contextual factors may influence equid welfare. Increasing understanding of the cultural context, social structure, and attitudes within a community, alongside more traditional investigations of working practices and animal management, may, in the future, help to make equid welfare initiatives more effective.

Full paper is available Open Access.

Online references

Equid Assessment, Research and Scoping (EARS): The Development and Implementation of a New Equid Welfare Assessment and Monitoring Tool

Citation

Zoe Raw, J. B. Rodrigues, Karen Rickards, Joe Ryding, Stuart L. Norris, Andrew Judge, Laura M. Kubasiewicz, Tamlin Watson, Holly Little, Ben Hart, Rebekah Sullivan, Chris Garrett, Faith A. Burden. 13 February 2020. Equid Assessment, Research and Scoping (EARS): The Development and Implementation of a New Equid Welfare Assessment and Monitoring Tool. Animals. 10:2. 297.

Authors
Publication details
Publication date: 
13 February 2020
Journal: 
Animals
Volume: 
10
Issue: 
2
Page numbers: 
297
DOI number: 
10.3390/ani10020297
Abstract

The assessment of animal welfare poses numerous challenges, yet an emerging approach is the consolidation of existing knowledge into new frameworks which can offer standardised approaches to welfare assessment across a variety of contexts. Multiple tools exist for measuring the welfare of equids, but such tools have typically been developed for specific contexts. There is no ‘one size fits all’ which means that resulting datasets are generally non-comparable, creating a barrier to knowledge-sharing and collaboration between the many organisations working to improve equid welfare around the globe. To address this, we developed the Equid Assessment, Research and Scoping (EARS) tool, which incorporates pre-existing validated welfare assessment methods alongside new welfare indicators to deliver a larger and more comprehensive series of welfare indicators than currently exists, creating a single resource that can be used to assess equid welfare in any context. We field-trialled three welfare assessment protocols within the EARS tool, and applied these to welfare assessment of equids in a variety of contexts across nineteen countries. The EARS tool proved a useful, versatile and rapid method for collecting welfare assessment data and we collected 7464 welfare assessments in a period of fifteen months. We evaluate the EARS tool and provide ideas for future development.

Full article available open access.

Online references

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.

Authors
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.

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.

Authors
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.

Use of Animal Welfare assessment protocols (AWIN) and health data to monitor and improve herd health in donkeys

Citation

Alexandra K. Thiemann, Karen Rickards. 21 April 2018. Use of Animal Welfare assessment protocols (AWIN) and health data to monitor and improve herd health in donkeys. Poster presented at 15th World Equine Veterinary Conference. (21 April - 23 April 2018). Beijing, China.

Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Saturday 21 April 2018
Abstract

Introduction-The Donkey Sanctuary (DS) is a global welfare charity whose mission is
“To transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide” [1]. 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 approximately 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 public and professionals. Welfare of the donkeys on the farms is critical to the credibility of the Donkey Sanctuary.
The veterinary team monitors the herd health to maintain high welfare standards. Traditional input consisted of weekly visits, annual vaccination, dental treatment, parasite control, and a reactive approach to illness. Since the introduction of The DS Animal Management System [2] and Animal welfare assessment protocols(AWIN), the team have been able to use evidence -based criteria (EBC) to assess farm herd health.
Methods- Every four months 1) the AMS data base is interrogated supplying information on relevant queries including Body Condition Score, Lameness, Colic, Hyperlipaemia, Sarcoids, Infectious disease, and Mortality rate, 2) an on farm welfare assessment is performed following the stage 1 AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators) protocol for donkeys [3].
Resource based and animal- based indicators are assessed on a randomly selected 10% of the herd by a team including vet, farm manager and grooms. Different animals are selected at each visit by using the farm named list of donkeys.
Results- Results are recorded via excel, graphical representation and written documentation. The results can be sub-divided in many ways depending upon clinical need.

Discussion- Using EBC and AWIN provides the vet team with tools to pro-actively monitor donkey health, refine management practices, re-direct budgets and track progress. Welfare can be bench marked and improvements aimed for. Monitoring / recording welfare data allows the DS to be compliant with national legislation [4]. Although a number of welfare assessment tools are available AWIN is validated and straightforward to use. The poster will illustrate 4 quarters of data presented graphically.

References
1.https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/our-mission, accessed 12/12/17

2 , The Donkey Sanctuary’s Animal Management System (Microsoft Dynamic CRM), introduced October 2015 Sarah Tulloch, AMS Manager/Project Lead.
3 AWIN http://www.animal-welfare-indicators.net/site/flash/pdf/AWINProtocolDonk..., accessed 12/12/17
4 Animal Welfare Act 2006 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/contents, accessed 12/12/17

Use of the Modified AWIN Welfare Assessment Protocol combined with a novel computer-based Animal Management System as a tool for managing herd health in donkeys

Citation
Authors
Presentation details
Date presented: 
Saturday 21 April 2018
Abstract

Introduction - The Donkey Sanctuary is a global welfare charity whose mission is "To transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people 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 approximately 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 public and professionals. Welfare of the donkeys on the farms is critical to the credibility of The Donkey Sanctuary.

The veterinary team monitors the herd health to maintain high welfare standards. Traditional input consisted of weekly visits, annual vaccination, dental treatment, parasite control, and a reactive approach to illness. Since the introduction of The Donkey Sanctuary Animal Management System and Animal welfare assessment protocols(AWIN), the team have been able to use evidence -based criteria (EBC) to assess farm herd health.

Methods - Every four months 1) the AMS data base is interrogated supplying information on relevant queries including Body Condition Score, Lameness, Colic, Hyperlipaemia, Sarcoids, Infectious disease, and Mortality rate, 2) an on farm welfare assessment is performed following the stage 1 AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators) protocol for donkeys.

Resource based and animal- based indicators are assessed on a randomly selected 10% of the herd by a team including vet, farm manager and grooms. Different animals are selected at each visit by using the farm named list of donkeys.

Results - Results are recorded via excel, graphical representation and written documentation. The results can be sub-divided in many ways depending upon clinical need.

Discussion- Using EBC and AWIN provides the vet team with tools to pro-actively monitor donkey health, refine management practices, re-direct budgets and track progress. Welfare can be bench marked and improvements aimed for. Monitoring / recording welfare data allows the DS to be compliant with national legislation [4]. Although a number of welfare assessment tools are available AWIN is validated and straightforward to use. The poster illustrates 4 quarters of data presented graphically.

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