Mexico

Selected health and management issues facing working donkeys presented for veterinary treatment in rural Mexico: some possible risk factors and potential intervention strategies

The examination of 216 donkeys presented for treatment at the Donkey Sanctuary-World Horse Welfare-Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico mobile clinics revealed a number of health and welfare problems. A general overview of the donkeys' health was made and showed that the median body condition score (BCS) in this population was 2.5. Underweight animals only accounted for 26% of the population. Females, 0-5-year-olds and >21-year-olds, were more likely to be underweight. When analysed, there was no correlation between faecal worm egg count (FEC) and BCS. The prevalence of strongyle infection as assessed by FEC was shown to be 80% with a median FEC of 600 eggs per gramme. Donkeys were assessed for body lesions and showed a high prevalence (71%), particularly in the facial region (54%). Analysis showed that mature animals (6-15 years old) were at increased risk of body lesions compared to older animals (16+ years old) as were donkeys with dental disease and those in particular villages. Risk factor analysis for lesions of the face showed that stallions and geldings are at increased risk as were donkeys wearing halters made from nylon rope. This study has identified areas for further investigation and potential areas where targeted interventions may be made to improve the health and welfare of working donkeys in Mexico.

Volume
42
Issue
4
End page
605
Publication date
Country

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

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.

Volume
37
Issue
Supp 1
Start page
123
End page
142
Publication date
Country

Comparison of working equid welfare across three regions of Mexico

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.

Publication date
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Clinical dental findings in 203 working donkeys in Mexico

Clinical dental examinations of 203 unsedated working donkeys in tropical and temperate climatic areas in Mexico revealed a high prevalence (62%) of dental disease with sharp enamel points present in 98% of the animals. More significant dental disorders (diastemata, 4%; overgrown teeth, 18%; worn teeth, 16%; missing teeth, 0.5%; displaced teeth, 1.5%; fractured teeth, 2%) with welfare implications that required immediate treatment were also present in 18% of donkeys. The high prevalence of buccal ulcers (14.3%) and calluses (13.3%) present in this population was believed to be due to the high prevalence of sharp enamel points in conjunction with the use of tight nose bands and head collars. Dental disease was significantly associated with age groups, but not with body condition score or to the climatic area where the donkeys lived. As part of more general examinations, 81% of donkeys that had faecal egg counts performed, had parasite burdens which mainly showed a moderate level of infection. This study concluded that dental disease is a welfare concern in working donkeys in Mexico.

Volume
178
Issue
3
Start page
380
End page
386
Publication date
Country

Prevalence of dental disorders in rural working equines of Mexico

J. A. Fernando-Martinez
Mariano Hernandez-Gil
Aline S. de Aluja
A. Herrera-Leon
J. L. Velazquez-Ramirez
Presentation date

Nutritional status, measured as body condition, has been used to assess welfare in working equines. Dental abnormalities have a substantial impact on the nutritional status of equines because they limit digestibility of foods and then nutrient utilisation. In Mexico, most of the working equines show body condition scores below 2.5 throughout the year and teeth problems may have a role in this. The purpose of this work was to investigate the prevalence of dental disorders in a population of working equines in Mexico. The study was run within with the work of the mobile clinics of DS-ILPH-UNAM programme. A total of 3,838 equines in 47 rural villages were assessed. Data were collected by surveys and by recording dental disorders in a complete oral examination. Species (donkey, horse or mule), sex (male or female), age and body condition score of every animal was recorded. The prevalence of animals with dental disorders and the frequency of each dental pathology in the affected animals were calculated. Body condition and age of affected animals were recorded. The average prevalence of serious dental disorder was low in all the cases (13%) and did not differ among species and sexes. The most frequent condition affecting incisor line of occlusion was ventral curvature. Enamel points, hooks, ramps, accentuated transverse ridges and steps were the most frequent abnormalities of cheek teeth rows. The average age of affected animals was 10.4±5.8 years, ranging from two to 40 years. Age did not differ among species or sexes. Mules showed higher average age, but the range was narrower than in other species. With regards to the body condition, more than 60% of the affected equines were in the lowest range (<2.5). These results are the first to describe the prevalence of serious dental abnormalities in working equines in Mexico and suggest the subject deserves further investigation. The data would allow strategies aimed at improving equine welfare via nutritional status.

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Published as conference proceedings
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Gatrointestinal parasite burden, body condition and haematological values in equines in the humid tropical areas of Mexico

M. P. Valdez-Cruz
Mariano Hernandez-Gil
Presentation date

Working equines in Mexico are distributed throughout the territory, but the management practices and the health and welfare conditions differ widely between regions depending on people's customs and specific climate conditions. The Eastern coast of México has an important equine population used for work in rural production systems. Something that owners and animal workers are concerned about is how the gastrointestinal parasite burden affects the equines nutritional status and health. This is because parasite reinfestations are most likely to occur in hot, humid climates. However, there are few reliable data to support this and the lack of information makes it difficult to design treating strategies and extension activities to ensure the health and welfare of equines in these areas. To address this, a trial was designed to determine the prevalence of animals infected with gastrointestinal nematodes, the parasite burdens and their effects on the nutritional status and haematological values of working equines from a tropical area of Mexico. One hundred and twelve equines were randomly selected in five different villages of the area. One sample of faeces and one sample of blood (in a tube containing EDTA) were obtained from every animal. Gastrointestinal parasite burden using the McMaster technique, proportions of nematodes species present through a coproculture, packed cell volume, total plasma proteins, red blood cell count and white blood cell count, were measured. The nutritional status was assessed using body condition score. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics. All calculations were done per species (horses, donkeys and mules) and community (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). Prevalence of infected equines was higher than 90%. The most common nematode species was Strongylus vulgaris. The parasite burden was low to moderate in horses and donkeys, higher in mules; however, it did not affect the body condition, nor the haematological values (P>0.05). Results suggest that in spite of the high prevalence and parasite burdens, equines involved in this trial are not being seriously affected, as shown by the body condition and haematological parameters.

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Published as conference proceedings
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A novel approach to pain recognition in donkeys

Gabriela Olmos
Faith A. Burden
Presentation date

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.

References

F. H. Ashley, A. E. Waterman-Pearson, H. R. Whay (2005) Behavioural assessment of pain in horses and donkeys: application to clinical practice and future studies, Equine Vet Journal, 37(6), 565-575.

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

A novel approach of pain recognition and assessment in donkeys: initial results

Gabriela Olmos
Ayin Q. Alvarado-Arellano
Nicole du Toit
Faith A. Burden
Neville G. Gregory
Presentation date

This paper proposes an approach to use pain-relevant pathologies to enhance our understanding of the clinical and behavioural signs of pain in donkeys and outlines initial results of this ongoing investigation.

The methodology is summarized as follows. Trained veterinary clinicians examined live donkeys under two situations: A) before being euthanized due to a terminal illness or reduced quality of life (n= 347 sedentary donkeys in UK; DU) or B) when about to be slaughtered in an abattoir (n=164 working donkeys in Mexico; DM). The animals that represent populations in terms of age (years) for DU and DM respectively, were: <5 = 0.5%, 31.7%; 5-15 = 4%; 67.7%; 16-20 = 6%, 0.6%; >20 = 89.5% and 0%. For sex were: stallions 0.5%, 44%; geldings 52.2%, 8%; females 47.3%, 48% for DU and DM respectively. The body condition was: <2 =18.5%, 44.7%; 2.5 – 3 = 56.5%, 54%; >3.5 = 25%, 1% for DU and DM respectively and the girth was: 115 cm ±SD 9.6, 112cm ±SD 7.3 for DU and DM respectively.

The clinical examination (CE) included the oral mucosa, heart & respiratory rate, rectal temperature, plus an evaluation of 6 demeanours and 47 behaviours/signs that could relate to pain. At this point an overall pain visual analogue score was derived (VAS 0cm = no pain to 10cm = the worst pain). At post-mortem (PM), lesions/pathologies were noted, grouped by system-organ/tissue, ranked (mild, moderate, severe) and classified according to the following potentially painful pathologies: 1) trauma, 2) inflammation, 3) over-distension 4) perforation/ rupture, 5) stripping/ ulceration, 6) adhesions, 7) swelling, 8) exposure of sub-chondral bone. From these observations a second VAS was produced.

Raw correlations from the two populations showed that donkeys given a higher VAS at CE and PM presented with a greater severity of lesions in more systems as well as a higher heart rate at CE than those donkeys with a lower PM VAS. Moderate to severe pain identified CE was often recognized as severe pain at the PM stage. These initial observations show promise, and so further analysis will be done to test the relationships between pain indicators and pain pathologies.

Published as conference proceedings
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ISBN (13-digit)
978-9-08-686179-8
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