Spain

Infecção por theileria equi e babesia caballi em asininos da raça Zamorano-Leonês na província de Zamora (Espanha)

Infection by theileria equi and babesia caballi in Zamorano-Leonês donkeys in Zamora Province (Spain)

In the west of the Zamora Province in Castilla y León region, one of the most rural and isolated areas of Spain, the Zamorano – Leonés donkey – a native endangered breed -is still playing a central role in the traditional daily agriculture activities practiced by the local inhabitants. In February 2010 a study was carried out to understand the prevalence of equine piroplasmosis in the population of Zamorano – Leonés Donkey, collecting blood samples from 86 animals in 13 villages in the Zamora Proviince. Equine piroplasmosis is a tick-borne disease of equids, caused by Theileria equi and Babesia caballi. These intraerythrocytic parasites are responsible for a high morbidity and mortality in equids. The cELISA tests (competitive – inhibition Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) revealed a positive seroprevalence of 21%, with 8 of the 86 donkeys positive for Theileria equi (9.3%), 10 for Babesia caballi (11.7%) and one of these 18 animals positive for both. The results of this study clearly demonstrate the importance of equine piroplasmosis affecting the Zamorano – Leonés donkey population. As far as we know this is the first study on intra-erythrocytic parasites in endangered Iberian breeds of donkeys and the results obtained reveal its importance in order to preserve this unique genetic heritage.

Volume
17
Start page
81
End page
84
Publication date
Country

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

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.

Volume
222
Publication date
Country

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

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.

Journal
Volume
10
Issue
5
Start page
790
Publication date
Research output
Country

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

Joseph A. Collins
Presentation date

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: €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.

Country

Protection from the elements - part two

Status
Applicant(s)
Collaborator(s)
Researcher(s)
Research award
Start date
End date

To expand upon the work done in Protection from the Elements Part one. Part two is focussed on warmer climates and implementing changes to provide better protection from the element for working equids in such climates.

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

Status
Collaborator(s)
Researcher(s)
Country

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

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.

Protection from the elements - part one: a comparative study of shelter use, hair density and heat loss in donkeys, horses and mules

Status
Applicant(s)
Collaborator(s)
Researcher(s)
Start date
End date
Methodology

Observational data and quantitative measurements. Modelling using Generalised Linear Mixed Models (GLMM) to compare variables.

Aims

To provide the first scientific assessment of the extent to which donkeys require protection from the elements across the range of environmental conditions typically experienced in the British Isles.

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