Portugal

Electronic instrumentation of a swingletree for equid pull load monitoring: a contribution for the welfare and performance of working donkeys

Equids play a fundamental role in supporting livelihoods in many parts of the world. Being able to access the animal’s welfare, especially while performing tasks that involve high levels of physical effort such as those found in agroforestry activities, is of utmost importance. The Donkey Sanctuary, a UK-based international charitable institution, has designed a project that aims to develop a set of tools to evaluate the working conditions of donkeys and mules worldwide. This requires the measurement of several different parameters, including the force exerted by an animal to pull a load during work. This article presents the stages of design, development and implementation of a device capable of carrying out these measurements with minimal human intervention and with negligible impact on the task operating conditions. Data obtained from real fi eld conditions validates the devised measurement method.

Volume
20
Issue
2
Start page
111
End page
125
Publication date
Research output

Parasitismo intestinal numa população de asininos (equus asinus) do Nordeste de Portugal, regularmente desparasitada

Intestinal parasitism in a population of donkeys (equus asinus) regulary dewormed, North-east Portugal

In Portugal, donkeys represent a large legacy of social, cultural, economic and ecological importance. The only native breed of donkeys, the Miranda Donkey, is composed by a small number of animals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the parasitic infection, particularly the variation in the rate of positivity, the level of parasitic infection (LPI) and the biodiversity of intestinal parasites in a population of 62 Miranda donkeys, exposed to an anti-parasitic control every 6 months, with subcutaneous injection of ivermectin 2% at the dosage of 1 ml/50 Kg BW, between July 2005 and February 2010. During this period, there was a decrease in the positivity rate, from 87% (54/62) in 2005 to 32% (20/62) in 2010, as well as a decrease in the LPI. In 2005, 70,4% of the infected animals had levels higher than 1000 eggs per gram (EPG), considered a high LPI and in 2010, 75% of the infected animals had levels under 500 EPG, low LPI. Biodiversity also decreased during this period, namely the decrease of Strongylinae in relation to Cyathostominae. Considering that consistent levels of parasitic infection are still observed in this population and that the most observed Strongylidae are the ones of genus Cyathostomum sensu latum, these results are worrying because these agents are frequently referred by its ability to acquire resistance to anti-parasitic drugs.

Volume
17
Issue
1
Publication date
Country

Viability analyses of an endangered donkey breed: the case of the Asinina de Miranda (equus asinus)

The donkey breed Asinina de Miranda, with fewer than 1000 breeding females, is in danger of extinction. The objectives of this study were to predict the progression of the breed under present management and identify determinants for survival, by means of a population viability analysis program, in order to suggest suitable management strategies. The simulation showed a high risk of extinction. The most critical factor for breed survival was the percentage of females breeding per year, but the actual percentage needed depended on the carrying capacity of the breed. Reducing female mortality and age at production of first offspring, assuring registration in the Studbook, and tracking the foals will significantly foster this donkey breed’s recovery and maintenance. The breed comprised a potentially reproductive population of 589 individuals; however, just 54.1% of the adult females registered in the Studbook ever foaled, and of these 62.7% foaled just once. The overall neonatal mortality for the first month of life was 8.92% and was lower in females (6.51%) than in males (12.0%) (P = 0.028). Neonatal mortality was unevenly distributed throughout the year, with lower mortality rates recorded in February–May and October–November, and higher mortality rates in June–September and again in December–January. The neonatal foal mortality rate was lower with females aged 5–15 years (8.06%) than those younger than 4 years (10.3%) or older than 16 years (14.1%) at foaling.

Volume
55
Issue
9
Start page
1184
End page
1191
Publication date
Country

The XXI century mountains: sustainable management of mountainous areas based on animal traction

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are around 300 million working animals worldwide. They play a fundamental role in human livelihoods through their contribution to financial, human and social capital, supporting between 300 and 600 million people globally, particularly in poorer areas, where animal energy represents a huge and extremely important sustainable power resource. Yet their recognition remains largely neglected, with animal traction being largely ignored by decision and policy makers and even by civil society at all levels, which compromises a real development and improvement of this technology as well as animal welfare. On the other hand, a collective ecological and economical consciousness and an increasing awareness of public opinion about the need to reduce the excessive industrialization and mechanization of agriculture and forestry has led some sectors of society to consider the (re)use of animal traction as a valid modern source of energy. Indeed, working animals optimally transform the consumed biomass in energy and natural fertilizer, which avoids soil degradation and contributes to a sustainable management of arable lands, forests and sensitive areas. The need to maintain biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, encourage self-reliance and reduce consumption of resources also contributes to this trend.

Volume
2
Issue
1
Start page
300
End page
307
Publication date
Country

Polyodontia in donkeys

Polyodontia is defined as the presence of teeth in excess of the normal dental formula. In equids, supernumerary teeth are uncommon but, when present, are usually located mainly in the caudal aspects of the cheek teeth rows (distomolars), also being found adjacent to normal cheek teeth or even in an ectopic location. It is believed that this disorder is a result of an inappropriate differentiation of dental germinal tissue during gestational development, with external trauma also acting as an initiating factor, when teeth germs are affected. The presence of these abnormal teeth can lead to axial displacement, dental overgrowths, dental-related soft tissue damage, diastemata formation, periodontal disease and development of secondary sinusitis. A large prospective, cross-sectional study was performed in 800 donkeys, with the aim to investigate the prevalence and aetiopathogenesis of clinically diagnosed oral and dental disorders. Polyodontia was recorded in 2.25% of the donkeys, presenting 36 supernumerary teeth, with 2.80% being incisors and 97.20% cheek teeth, with prevalence increasing with age. The caudal aspects of the maxillary cheek teeth rows were the most common locations for supernumerary teeth development (distomolars). The mandible was far less commonly affected than the maxilla. Although polyodontia is uncommon in donkeys, it should be considered in the differential diagnosis of dental disease. A methodical oral examination and a complete radiographic survey of the entire dental arcades are crucial for a correct early diagnosis and treatment plan implementation. The increasing prevalence of fully erupted supernumerary teeth recorded in older groups suggested a late onset eruption process, and therefore, in donkeys undergoing regular dental prophylaxis, the presence of previously unnoticed supernumerary teeth should always be sought.

Volume
25
Issue
7
Start page
363
End page
367
Publication date
Country

Percutaneous approach for sialolith removal in a donkey

Salivary duct lithiasis is a condition characterized by the partial or total obstruction of a salivary gland or its excretory duct due to the formation of sialoliths. A 9-year-old female donkey, belonging to the unique and endangered indigenous breed of donkey in Portugal, was diagnosed with a sialolith in the rostral portion of the right parotid duct based on clinical, oral, dental, and radiographic examination results. Surgical removal of the sialolith was done through a percutaneous approach.

Volume
30
Issue
1
Start page
32
End page
35
Publication date
Country

Measuring conformation in mules, hinnies, and donkeys (equus asinus) from Spanish and Portuguese populations

Mules and hinnies are hybrid offspring of donkeys (Equus asinus) and horses (Equus caballus). Little scientific information is known regarding mules and even less is known about hinnies, the reciprocal cross. Conformation standards are in place for horses but currently are not available for equid hybrids or donkeys. Conformation maybe related to functionality and longevity of equids. All animals in this study were of similar genetics (Zamora Leones and Mirandes donkey breeds and Spanish horses) from Toro, Spain and Miranda do Douro, Portugal and used for traction.

Volume
35
Issue
5
Start page
426
End page
427
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

Focal gingival hyperplasia in a donkey

An 18-year old jenny was observed with a right maxillary tumefaction, presenting weight loss, quidding, dysphagia and halitosis. An external and intra oral examinations were performed. Both exams revealed a complete blockage of motion in the right mandible, due to the presence of severe shear mouth. A pedunculated mass was observed in the right maxillary vestibular space. It was speculated that the mass resulted from food debris acting as a source of gingival irritation, as a consequence of the shear mouth.

Gingival hyperplasia is a common histological feature in equids, due to close contact between an abrasive diet and oral tissues. However, on a macroscopic level, pathological proliferation of the gingival tissue is uncommon and seldom reaches significant dimensions, but still should be considered differential diagnoses when examining an equid with pertinent clinical signs, mainly when severe dental disorders are diagnosed.

This clinical case seems to be the first describing the occurrence of gingival fibrous hyperplasia apparently as a direct consequence of shear mouth in a donkey.

Volume
32
Issue
1
Start page
54
End page
55
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
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