one health

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.

Start page
Publication date
Research output

Space-based technology and One Health: delivering an integrated approach

Joe Ryding
Presentation date

Africa has a median age of 19 and 444 million unique mobile subscribers. In this paper we suggest ways to utilise space-based technology, such as mobile, for positive animal welfare impact within a One Health framework. One Health as a concept is the understanding that “human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist” (OIE, 2019). Through using interoperable platforms and tools for collecting, analysing and disseminating information, space-based technology can provide a link between animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation that helps increase our understanding of the relationships between these different disciplines, facilitating the One Health approach.

This paper describes how The Donkey Sanctuary uses global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), accessed through a mobile device, to determine the geolocation of animal welfare assessment data. This includes the software, platforms and products used. We concentrate on open-source or low cost solutions that are suitable for resource constrained environments such as those found in many parts of Africa.

We also present methods for analysing multiple data sets linking animal welfare, wildlife and environmental conservation, such as disease outbreaks or wildlife populations combined with remote sensing products (e.g. climate indicators or socioeconomics) to investigate significant relationships and act as a diagnostic aid. We outline our use of space-based technology from collection, publication, uptake, through to impact, including the challenges associated with such an approach.

Space-based technology has the potential to improve our understanding of animal welfare across Africa within a One Health framework. We have shown how the collection of welfare assessment data on mobile devices can be integrated with other space-based technologies to provide insights and actionable results. The rapid change and growth of space-based technology means we need to be agile in our approach to the changing nature of data.

Mapping the issues of Indian donkey and mule population and identify the potential intervention strategies and partners


It is evident from the literature that working equines contribute much to the sustainable development goals through supporting the livelihood of poorest families worldwide. They are considered source of employment in various sectors including agriculture, construction, tourism and mining sector. However, the contribution in enhancing the livelihood of poor and welfare issues especially in the case of donkeys and mules are under-acknowledged and neglected in the policies and development programmes due to lack of information and data to support their contribution. Efforts by various animal welfare organisations to improve the welfare of working equines have not achieved significant positive changes. There is need for one welfare approach where welfare of animals and human to be considered interlinked to each other, so change in human welfare will bring positive change in animal welfare and improved animal welfare will increase the productivity and household income.


The study will follow desktop review, qualitative and quantitative data collection methods across the regions where donkey and mule populations are relatively higher.


This study is aimed to map the issues of Indian donkey and mule population and their dependents in the broader developmental context to identify the potential institutional innovations to bring positive changes in animal and human welfare.


1) To identify the donkey and mule population, trend and their usage patterns in rural, urban and industrial development context in different regions of India. 2) To specify the communities who own the donkey and mule population in different regions of the country. Evaluate the human development indicators associated with these communities specific to different regions. 3) To identify the key challenges and opportunities that impact the welfare of human and equine populations (one health approach) in the areas where donkey and mule populations are high.

The role, importance and impact of veterinary drug retail outlets (VDRO) on the welfare of equines and their owners in India

Start date
End date

In spite of their official classification under “livestock”, and the significant role they play in the livelihoods of millions in the developing world, equines and those who depend upon them for their livelihoods tend to be ignored within the research agenda. It is also the case that other livestock are often valued over working equines due to their 'direct link to food and nutritional security'. Equine welfare in this case, with respect to veterinary treatment, might therefore suffer as a consequence of this placement of value. Couple this with the fact that the majority of donkey and mule owners in developing countries live in marginalised or poor communities and it becomes clear that the medicating practices of equine owners require further investigation to understand how they make decisions regarding the veterinary treatment of their animals, and who they source their medication and advice from when their animals require medications. This research will attempt to fill some of these gaps in knowledge.


Fieldwork focussed largely on communities working in brick kilns but also incorporated some working in construction. A small proportion of the research aimed to capture any differences between sites where Donkey Sanctuary India (DSI) partners had provided veterinary interventions and advice and sites not visited by DSI. A mixed methods approach was identified as most appropriate in capturing the lived experience of donkey owners as well as members of the veterinary retail outlet workforce, and was undertaken through semi-structured interviews (enabling quantitative and qualitative data capture), focus groups, patient simulation method, knowledge assessment through the use of vignettes. Both donkey owners/users as well as a purposive sample of VDRO workforce members and veterinary service providers was recruited for participation. Equine welfare was measured using the Equid Assessment Research Scoping (EARS) tool. Videos were also taken of each equid/ group of equids for qualitative behavioural assessment. Fieldwork was carried out in February/ March due to their relative seasonal reliability in terms of weather, as well as corresponding with the early brick kiln season in the specified study location.


This project contributes to, what is currently, a limited existing body of knowledge regarding equine health service provision in India. It focused primarily on the role of veterinary drug retail outlets in urban areas such as Haldwani), peri-urban areas (such as Rewari and Firozabad), and rural areas (within Uttarakhand or Rajasthan).

The research aimed to understand:

  • User perception and experience of veterinary drug retail outlets in terms of affordability, availability, accessibility, acceptability, quality of service and sustainability.
  • The extent to which users depend on the services of veterinary drug retail outlets in the treatment of their animals and equines
  • The characteristics (outlet type, products stocked, drugs stocked, drug sources), capacities (training, education, skills), and drug prescribing practices of the retail outlet and its workforce
  • The impact of the above variables on donkey/mule welfare

Further to these aims, the project sought to identify constraints to equine owners with regards to equine welfare, as well as to examine the working constraints of the veterinary drug retail outlet workforce in the designated region of study.

Data collected regarding the above points was analysed alongside equine welfare data collected via the EARS tool in order to discover any potential correlation between equine welfare and retail outlet-related variables.

A small proportion of this study included comparison work between Donkey Sanctuary India sites and sites where there has been little to no intervention by an equine-related organisation.


The purpose of this research project was to identify the role, importance, and impact of veterinary drug retail outlets (VDROs) on working equine welfare in India. The research gathered relevant data regarding health and wellbeing of donkeys in greatest need internationally, as well as aiding to understand associated biosecurity and environmental risks (such as cross contamination or antimicrobial resistance), and equine lifecycle and disease.


The study highlighted significant issues around the capacity of retail drug outlets particularly; a lack of knowledge, education and training in the dispensing of drugs to equids meant many equids received either the wrong treatment or incorrect dosage for presenting symptoms; when antimicrobials were offered this malpractice has considerable implications for antimicrobial resistance in equid populations. This is of particular concern when considering the highly mobile nature of working equids; frequently crossing borders whilst being translocated for migratory work and when being sold. For more in depth details of the study findings please read the two research outputs below.


Nye, Caroline, Tamlin Watson, Laura Kubasiewicz, Zoe Raw, and Faith Burden. 2020. "No Prescription, No Problem! A Mixed-Methods Study of Antimicrobial Stewardship Relating to Working Equines in Drug Retail Outlets of Northern India" Antibiotics 9, no. 6: 295.


Nye, Caroline, Tamlin Watson, Laura M. Kubasiewicz, Zoe Raw, and Faith Burden. 2021. "‘Don’t Put the Cart before the Mule!’ Challenging Assumptions Regarding Health-Related Treatment Practices of Working Equid Owners in Northern India" Animals 11, no. 5: 1307.

Subscribe to one health