donkeys

Endoparasite control for donkeys in the UK

The prevalence of endoparasites, their control and clinical relevance in donkeys can often cause confusion and concern to vets and owners alike. While donkeys can be affected by the same parasite species as horses, infection characteristics, presenting signs and symptoms of disease can differ. Donkeys do not always show obvious signs of disease until it is severe so it is important to know what to look out for when clinically assessing a donkey and how best to diagnose potential infection with parasites. There is a limited selection of anthelmintic products available for use in the donkey, so prescribing using the cascade is sometimes warranted. Careful consideration should be given to the choice and frequency of anthelmintic treatments in order to balance controlling disease with preserving anthelmintic efficacy.

Journal
Volume
5
Issue
2
Start page
84
End page
89
Publication date
Country

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

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.

Publication date
Country

The effectiveness of faecal removal methods of pasture management to control the cyathostomin burden of donkeys

Background

The level of anthelmintic resistance within some cyathostomin parasite populations has increased to the level where sole reliance on anthelmintic-based control protocols is not possible. Management-based nematode control methods, including removal of faeces from pasture, are widely recommended for use in association with a reduction in anthelmintic use to reduce selection pressure for drug resistance; however, very little work has been performed to quantitatively assess the effectiveness of such methods.

Methods

We analysed data obtained from 345 donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary (Devon, UK), managed under three different pasture management techniques, to investigate the effectiveness of faeces removal in strongyle control in equids. The management groups were as follows: no removal of faeces from pasture, manual, twice-weekly removal of faeces from pasture and automatic, twice-weekly removal of faeces from pasture (using a mechanical pasture sweeper). From turn-out onto pasture in May, monthly faecal egg counts were obtained for each donkey and the dataset subjected to an auto regressive moving average model.

Results

There was little to no difference in faecal egg counts between the two methods of faecal removal; both resulted in significantly improved cyathostomin control compared to the results obtained from the donkeys that grazed pasture from which there was no faecal removal.

Conclusions

This study represents a valuable and unique assessment of the effectiveness of the removal of equine faeces from pasture, and provides an evidence base from which to advocate twice-weekly removal of faeces from pasture as an adjunct for equid nematode control. Widespread adoption of this practice could substantially reduce anthelmintic usage, and hence reduce selection pressure for nematode resistance to the currently effective anthelmintic products.

Volume
7
Issue
48
Publication date
Country

Influence of dental correction in nociceptive tests response, fecal appearance, body condition score and apparent dry matter digestibility of Zamorano-Leonés donkeys (Equus asinus)

The influence of dental correction on nociceptive (pressure) test responses, fecal appearance, BCS, and apparent digestibility coefficient for DM was studied in 18 Zamorano-Leonés donkeys, an endangered local breed from the Zamora province in Spain. For this purpose, donkeys were divided into 2 homogeneous control and treatment groups, based on age, BCS, and dental findings. On d 1, 45, 90, and 135, BCS and nociceptive test responses were evaluated in all donkeys. Feed and fecal samples were collected from all donkeys for 3 consecutive days, starting at each of the aforementioned days. Apparent digestibility coefficient for DM was estimated, using ADL as an internal marker. A progressive decrease of positive nociceptive test responses was observed from d 1 up to 90 (P < 0.01) in the treatment group. No difference between groups was observed for BCS. However, BCS at d 90 was greater (P = 0.018) than observed on d 1 or 45, indicating a time influence. Concerning apparent digestibility coefficient for DM, there were differences among collection days in apparent digestibility coefficient for DM (P < 0.05). No differences in fecal appearance were observed between treatments or collection days. This study highlighted the importance of regular dental care for not only Zamorano-Leonés donkeys but also the equid population, in general, to improve their welfare.

Volume
91
Start page
4765
End page
4771
Publication date
Country

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

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.

Volume
7
Start page
214
Publication date
Research output
Country

Under the skin: donkeys in crisis

Alex Mayers
Presentation date

Increased levels of personal wealth in China are fuelling demand for luxury products including ejiao, a product made using donkey skin. A traditional medicine, ejiao’s popularity is largely due to its reported anti-aging properties. Demand for donkey skins to produce ejiao is conservatively estimated at 4 million per year. This represents a significant proportion of the global donkey population of 44 million. China’s own donkey population has nearly halved in the last 20 years and entrepreneurs are now looking worldwide to satisfy a growing demand. Despite their essential role in livelihoods and 30 community resilience donkeys are largely invisible in livestock policies, livelihoods and humanitarian projects. It is therefore unsurprising that the emerging trade in skins is also invisible. Donkeys are frequently stolen from owners across Africa and illegally slaughtered in the bush; only the skins are removed and carcasses left to rot. In other areas, donkeys are bought at less than current market value and are transported in inhumane conditions to recently built legal slaughterhouses. In the short term donkey owners are facing donkey prices that have increased up to tenfold within a few years and they are without the means to replace animals they depend on. The invisibility of the trade is compounded by illegitimate export practices and criminal gangs. Due to the lucrative market for skins intensive farms are present in China and are likely to expand to other countries. Such rearing creates significant welfare concerns for a species poorly adapted to intensive practices. Australia has been exploring harvesting feral donkeys in the Northern Territories, possibly including some considered by indigenous communities to be owned and with cultural significance. This demand risks the welfare of donkeys, the communities who live with them, and, within a few decades, perhaps the species as a whole.

Country

Preliminary investigation into relationships between donkey and horse skull morphology and brain morphology

K. Merkies
Georgios Paraschou
P. D. McGreevy
Presentation date

All horses and donkeys belong to the genus Equus but anatomical and behavioural differences exist among species. Equus caballus displays distinctive conformational attributes among breeds provisionally related to ganglion cell distribution and skull and brain morphology. Equus asinus shows less variation in skull shape, and little is known about brain organisation. The current research compared skull and brain morphology between horses and donkeys. Skulls of Equus caballus, primarily of Standardbred type (N=14) and Equus asinus (N=16), were obtained postmortem. All animals had been humanely euthanised for reasons unrelated to this study. Heads were sectioned sagitally along the midline and photographed for measurement of various skull structures using Image J software. Measurements included: skull index (SI)=zygomatic width*100/skull length; cranial index (CI)=cranial width*100/cranial length; nasal index (NI)=zygomatic width*100/nasal length; cranial profile index (CPI)=rectangular area bordered by an 80mm line from orbital notch and occiput; nasal profile index (NPI)= rectangular area bordered by 80mm line from orbital notch and tip of nasal bone; olfactory lobe area (OLA); OL pitch [angle between hard palate and the OL axis]; brain pitch [angle between longitudinal axis of the cerebral hemispheres and the hard palate]; and whorl location (WL) [distance of OL from the level of the forehead whorl]. A General Linear Model determined the main effect of species with Sidak’s multiple comparisons of species’ differences among the various measurements. Donkeys had shorter heads (cranial lengths) than horses (19.7±2.5 vs 23.6±1.4cm respectively; F1,23=51.49, P<0.0002). Donkeys also had smaller cranial widths (13±3.4cm; F1,17=15.91, P<0.001) and mandibular depths (24±2.6cm; F1,21=13.05, P<0.002) than horses (19±0.8 and 27.2±1.1cm, respectively). There was no species difference in SI, ZI, or NI (P>0.40), but donkeys tended to have a smaller CI than horses (F1,17=3.59, P<0.08). Similarly, donkeys had a smaller CPI than horses (F1,21=7.54, P<0.034), but there was no difference in NPI (F1,21=0.05, P>0.83). Donkeys also had a smaller OLA than horses (1.4±0.3 vs 2.3±1.3cm2 respectively; F1,13=4.96, P<0.05) although there was no difference in brain pitch (F1,23=0.69, P>0.43). The greatest difference was seen in WL, which corresponded to the level of the OL in horses, but was extremely rostral in donkeys (F1,21=24.29, P<0.0001). These results show clear differentiation in skull morphology between horses and donkeys which may be linked to behaviour. This may be useful in validating different approaches in the training and management of horses versus donkeys.

Horses demonstrate specific behaviours which may be associated with skull shape, although nothing is known about this relationship in donkeys. This pilot study has shown that donkeys have smaller brain cases and olfactory lobes than Standardbred horses. Donkeys’ facial whorls are located lower down the face while horses’ are in close proximity to the brain’s olfactory lobe. Clarifying differences between horses and donkeys is crucial to understanding species-specific behavioural responses and providing appropriate management and training practices.

Owner awareness of the importance of equine dentistry and its role in preventing welfare problems

J. B. Rodrigues
Faith A. Burden
Carlos A. A. Viegas
Fidel San Roman
Presentation date

Recent clinical and post-mortem studies have documented dental disease as a major but often unrecognized, disorder of equids, including horses and donkeys. A study to investigate the prevalence of oral and dental disorders was performed, in two endangered breeds of donkeys: the Mirandês Donkey and the Zamorano-Leonés Donkey, through a prospective cross-sectional study of 800 donkeys, divided in to 7 age groups (ranging 0–34 years). Cheek teeth disorders were present in 82.8% of study donkeys, ranging from a prevalence of 29.6% in the <2.5 years old group to 100% in the >25 years old group. In addition 74% of donkeys suffered from incisor disorders, ranging from 56.8% in the youngest group to 90.3% in donkeys >25 years.

The study evaluated socio-economic data from individual owners (n=341), owning 86% of the study population (n=688 donkeys), including age, profession, level of education and previous knowledge of dentistry. Results highlighted their advanced age (65.3 years), and the extremely high percentage of owners without previous knowledge of donkey dentistry (97.1%) (331/341). Previous knowledge of dentistry was mentioned only by 2.9% of owners (10/341), mainly by owners with a higher level of education, with 80% (8/10) having 12 years of education or more. However, only two owners had provided previous treatment to their donkeys. It is important to mention that even these two owners had other animals without treatment, meaning that animals were treated when presenting with clinical signs of oral and dental disease and were not treated on a prophylactic basis.

This study highlights the importance of educational programmes focused on the prophylactic importance of donkey dentistry, especially when comparing prevalence of dental disorders in working donkeys and previous knowledge on dentistry.

Country
Not published as conference proceedings

2020 update of the global donkey and mule population

Status

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.

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.

Aims

The aim of this project is to quantify changes in global donkey and mule population between 1997 and 2018 using FAO data.

Objectives

The objective of this project is to better understand changes in donkey and mule population distributions based on open source data.

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.

Subscribe to donkeys