equid

Spatial cognition and perseveration by horses, donkeys and mules in a simple A-not-B detour task

We investigated perseveration and detour behaviour in 36 equids (Equus caballus, E. asinus, E. caballus x E. asinus) and compared these data to those of a previous study on domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). The animals were required to make a detour through a gap at one end of a straight barrier in order to reach a visible target. After one, two, three or four repeats (A trials), the gap was moved to the opposite end of the barrier (B trials). We recorded initial deviations from the correct solution path and the latency to crossing the barrier. In the A trials, mules crossed the barrier significantly faster than their parental species, the horses and donkeys. In the B trials, following the change of gap location, all species showed a reduction in performance. Both dogs and horses exhibited significant spatial perseveration, going initially to the previous gap location. Donkeys and mules, however, performed at chance level. Our results suggest that hybrid vigour in mules extends to spatial abilities.

Volume
16
Start page
301
End page
305
Publication date
Country

Social relations in a mixed group of mules, ponies and donkeys reflect differences in equid type

Donkeys and mules are frequently kept as companion animals for horses and ponies, with these different equids often being considered a homogenous group. However, the extent to which domestic equids form inter-specific bonds and display similar social behaviour when living in a mixed herd has not previously been studied. Here we compare the social organization of these three (sub)species when housed together, providing the first systematic analysis of how genetic hybridization is expressed in the social behaviour of mules. A group of 16 mules, donkeys and ponies was observed for 70 h and preferred associates, dominance rank and the linearity of the group’s hierarchy was determined. The different equids formed distinct affiliative groups that were ordered in a linear hierarchy with ponies as the most dominant, mules in the middle ranks and donkeys in the lowest ranks. Within each equid subgroup, the strength of the hierarchy also varied. Thus in the present study, the three (sub)species displayed different social organization and levels of dominance and preferred to associate with animals of the same equid type, given the opportunity. These results suggest that different domestic equid (sub) species display variations in social behaviour that are likely to have a strong genetic basis.

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Country

Safety and efficacy of three trypanocides in confirmed field cases of trypanosomiasis in working equines in The Gambia: a prospective, randomised, non-inferiority trial

Globally, working equines have a continued and growing socioeconomic role in supporting the livelihoods of between 300–600 million people in low income countries which is rarely recognised at a national or international level. Infectious diseases have significant impact on welfare and productivity in this population and equine trypanosomiasis is a priority disease due to its severity and prevalence. Strategies are required to improve the prevention, diagnosis, management and treatment of trypanosomiasis in equines and more data are required on the efficacy and safety of current trypanocidal drugs.

Volume
13
Issue
3
Publication date
Country

Practical feeding and condition scoring for donkeys

Donkeys have evolved to thrive on highly fibrous, poor quality foodstuffs and have evolved as browsers as well as grazers. As such, they have different nutrient requirements with significantly lower energy and protein needs when compared with horses. Dietary management of donkeys is essential when kept in a temperate climate as they are prone to obesity and related disorders. A diet based on fibrous forages and limited grazing is usually sufficient for the majority of donkeys and mules. Specialist feeding is discussed in this article.

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Participatory study of medicinal plants used in the control of gastrointestinal parasites in donkeys in Eastern Shewa and Arsi zones of Oromia region, Ethiopia

Background

Gastrointestinal nematode infections constitute a threat to the health and welfare of donkeys worldwide. Their primary means of control is via anthelmintic treatments; however, use of these drugs has constraints in developing countries, including cost, limited availability, access to cheaper generic forms of variable quality and potential anthelmintic resistance. As an alternative, bioactive plants have been proposed as an option to treat and control gastrointestinal helminths in donkeys. This study aimed to use participatory methodology to explore donkey owner knowledge, attitudes and beliefs relating to the use of plant-based treatments for gastrointestinal parasites of donkeys in Ethiopia.

Results

In focus groups, 22/29 groups stated they knew of plants used for the treatment of gastrointestinal parasites in donkeys. All groups volunteered plants that were used in cattle and/or small ruminants. In total, 21 plants were named by participants. ‘Koso’ (Hagenia abyssinica) ‘Grawa’ (Vernonia amygdalina) and a mixed roots and leaves preparation were the most frequently named plant preparations. ‘Enkoko’ (Embelia shimperi) and ‘a mixture of roots and leaves’ were ranked highly for effectiveness in donkeys. However, ‘Grawa’ and ‘Koso’ were the highest ranked when taking into account both the rank position and the number of groups ranking the plant.

Thematic analysis of participants’ current attitudes and beliefs surrounding traditional plant-based remedies for gastrointestinal parasites revealed that anthelmintics obtained from clinics were generally favoured due to their ease of administration and perceived higher effectiveness. There was doubt surrounding the effectiveness of some plant-based treatments, but there were also perceived advantages including their low cost, ease of cultivation and availability. However, plant-based treatments were considered a “past trend” and people favoured “modern” medicine, particularly among the younger generation.

Conclusions

There was extensive knowledge of plant-based treatments for gastrointestinal parasites in livestock in Ethiopia. In donkeys, Koso (Hagenia abyssinica), Grawa (Vernonia amygdalina), Enkoko (Embelia shimperi) and ‘mixed roots and leaves’ were the most frequently named and/or highest ranked plants with reported efficacy against gastrointestinal parasites. Further in vitro and in vivo investigation of these plants is now required to determine viable alternatives for the treatment and control of gastrointestinal parasites in Ethiopia.

Volume
9
Issue
179
Start page
1
End page
12
Publication date
Country

Necropsy survey of gastric ulcers in a population of aged donkeys: prevalence, lesion description and risk factors

There is no information about the prevalence of gastric ulceration in donkeys or potential risk factors for its presence in donkeys. The donkey is a stoic, hardy animal that has not previously been thought to suffer from this disease. However, gastric ulceration was found to be a problem in a population of non-working UK donkeys resident at the Donkey Sanctuary and its prevalence was estimated by examining necropsy data over a 2-year period during 2005 to 2006. Associations with clinical and management factors were determined. In total, 426 donkeys were examined at necropsy to determine the presence of gastric ulceration. Lesions were described and scored according to a four-point scale. Management and clinical data from these donkeys were analysed to identify potential risk factors for the presence of gastric ulceration. Terminal blood samples were also studied to determine whether animals were exhibiting hyperlipaemia prior to death. Results showed that 41% (n = 174) of the donkeys studied had evidence of gastric ulceration at necropsy. Most (49%) of the ulcers were of a medium size (area of xs2A7E2 cm2 – <10 cm2) and the most common site for ulcers was the margo plicatus. Of the donkeys examined, 18% had hyperlipaemia prior to or death or euthanasia and this was a risk factor for donkeys developing gastric ulceration; 62% of hyperlipaemia cases also displayed gastric ulceration (P < 0.001). Kidney disease was a potential risk factor (P = 0.02), with 74% of these animals having gastric ulceration. Donkeys that died or were euthanased due to respiratory disease were at a decreased risk of developing ulceration (P = 0.01) Donkeys fed a carbohydrate-based diet were more likely (P < 0.001) to have gastric ulceration than those fed a fibre-only diet, with 55% having gastric ulceration compared with 33% in the fibre-only group. This study has shown that gastric ulceration is commonly observed in donkeys at necropsy and may be extensive.

Journal
Volume
3
Issue
2
Start page
287
End page
293
Publication date

Equid Assessment, Research and Scoping (EARS): the development and implementation of a new equid welfare assessment and monitoring tool

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.

Journal
Volume
10
Issue
2
Start page
297
Publication date
Research output

Donkeys are different

As a unique species of equine the donkey has certain specific variations from the horse. This review highlights the origins of the donkey and how this impacts upon its behaviour, physiology and propensity to disease. The donkey is less of a flight animal and has been used by humans for pack and draught work, in areas where their ability to survive poorer diets, and transboundary disease while masking overt signs of pain and distress has made them indispensable to human livelihoods.

When living as a companion animal however the donkey easily accumulates adipose tissue, this may create a metabolically compromised individual prone to diseases of excess such as laminitis and hyperlipaemia. They show anatomical variations from the horse especially in the hoof, upper airway, and their conformation. Variations in physiology lead to differences in the metabolism and distribution of many drugs. With over 44 million donkeys worldwide it is important that veterinarians have the ability to understand and treat this equid effectively.

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A survey of seasonal patterns in strongyle faecal worm egg counts of working equids of the Central Midlands and Lowlands, Ethiopia

A study was conducted for two consecutive years (1998-1999) to determine the seasonal patterns of strongyle infection in working donkeys of Ethiopia. For the purpose 2385 donkeys from midland and lowland areas were examined for the presence of parasitic ova. A hundred percent prevalence of strongyle infection with similar seasonal pattern of strongyle faecal worm egg output was obtained in all study areas. However, seasonal variations in the number of strongyle faecal worm egg output were observed in all areas. The highest mean faecal worm egg outputs were recorded during the main rainy season (June to October) in both years in all areas. Although an increase in the mean strongyle faecal egg output was obtained in the short rainy season (March-April) followed by a drop in the short dry season (May), there was no statistically significant difference between the short rainy season and long dry season (Nov-Feb) (P > 0.05). A statistically significant difference however, was obtained between the main rainy season and short rainy season, and between the main rainy season and dry season (P < 0.05). Based on the results obtained it is suggested that the most economical and effective control of strongyles can be achieved by strategic deworming programme during the hot dry pre-main rainy season (May), when the herbage coverage is scarce and helminthologically 'sterile', and the arrested development of the parasites is suppose to be terminating. This could insure the greatest proportion of the existing worm population to be exposed to anthelmintic and also reduces pasture contamination and further infection in the subsequent wet season.

Volume
40
Issue
8
Start page
637
End page
642
Publication date
Country
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