Selected health and management issues facing working donkeys presented for veterinary treatment in rural Mexico: some possible risk factors and potential intervention strategies

The examination of 216 donkeys presented for treatment at the Donkey Sanctuary-World Horse Welfare-Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico mobile clinics revealed a number of health and welfare problems. A general overview of the donkeys' health was made and showed that the median body condition score (BCS) in this population was 2.5. Underweight animals only accounted for 26% of the population. Females, 0-5-year-olds and >21-year-olds, were more likely to be underweight. When analysed, there was no correlation between faecal worm egg count (FEC) and BCS. The prevalence of strongyle infection as assessed by FEC was shown to be 80% with a median FEC of 600 eggs per gramme. Donkeys were assessed for body lesions and showed a high prevalence (71%), particularly in the facial region (54%). Analysis showed that mature animals (6-15 years old) were at increased risk of body lesions compared to older animals (16+ years old) as were donkeys with dental disease and those in particular villages. Risk factor analysis for lesions of the face showed that stallions and geldings are at increased risk as were donkeys wearing halters made from nylon rope. This study has identified areas for further investigation and potential areas where targeted interventions may be made to improve the health and welfare of working donkeys in Mexico.

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