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.