Collar pressure mapping: An evaluation of seven collar types used on working donkeys in Europe


Working donkeys represent an important source of energy worldwide. Poor working conditions and equipment affect their ability to work. Poorly designed, ill-fitted harness causes inefficient transfer of power and leads to health and welfare issues. Using technology to assess different types of collars provides a better understanding of those that are most efficient for working donkeys.

Materials and methods

Seven different collars were tested using pressure pads. Contact area, median, maximum and peak pressures were obtained for the whole collar and critical points. Eight donkeys pulled 20% and 40% of their body weight, using each collar, under controlled conditions.


Contact area and pressures vary between collars and effort, with design and expansion capacity of the collars playing a major role. Simple collars designed specifically for donkeys performed well, with full collars designed for horses also having good results. Due to reduced expansion capacity and contact in the critical points, the breast collars were the least effective.


Design, appropriate padding and manufacturing materials and adjustment capacity are key features for good collars, and such parameters are of paramount importance in terms of health and welfare for working donkeys.

Publication date

Harness pressure mapping and the development of technology for animal traction: a contribution for the welfare and performance of working donkeys

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End date

Different harness systems will be tested, controlling variables that can influence the results, such as draft work when performing different tasks, load displaced, balance of the load, etc. The force and pressure distribution beneath the working harness will be assessed, through the use of the CONFORMat (or similar) pressure mapping tool (Tekscan®). Pressure mapping tools have been used to investigate the relationship between contact surfaces in terms of pressure distribution and magnitude. In this study, the CONFORMat will be used to measure and illustrate visually the pressure effects at the contact interfaces between the components of the harness and the working donkeys' body surface. Data will be collected from firstly static donkeys and then donkeys in motion.


This research will allow the development of easily transportable kit that allows to evaluate in situ any harness system used in donkeys worldwide, assessing its effectiveness and welfare of the animals, allowing to promote changes based on evidence based scientific knowledge.


To test existing models and/or contribute to the development of better and more adapted harness system for working donkeys, by assessing the force and pressure distribution beneath the working harness, while monitoring the general health and welfare of the animals.

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