Use of Animal Welfare assessment protocols (AWIN) and health data to monitor and improve herd health in donkeys

Presentation date


The Donkey Sanctuary is a global welfare charity whose mission is “to transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide”. In the UK, The Donkey Sanctuary cares for over 2,000 donkeys on a number of farms varying in size from 250-580 animals. The farms aim to rehome approximately 10% of their herd annually to guardian (private) homes or donkey assisted therapy centres. The farms also provide a show case for our work to visiting public and professionals. Welfare of the donkeys on the farms is critical to the credibility of The Donkey Sanctuary.

The veterinary team monitors the herd health to maintain high welfare standards. Traditional input consisted of weekly visits, annual vaccination, dental treatment, parasite control, and a reactive approach to illness. Since the introduction of The Donkey Sanctuary's Animal Management System and Animal welfare assessment protocols (AWIN), the team have been able to use evidence -based criteria (EBC) to assess farm herd health.


Every four months 1) the AMS data base is interrogated supplying information on relevant queries including Body Condition Score, Lameness, Colic, Hyperlipaemia, Sarcoids, Infectious disease, and Mortality rate, 2) an on farm welfare assessment is performed following the stage 1 AWIN (Animal Welfare Indicators) protocol for donkeys.

Resource based and animal-based indicators are assessed on a randomly selected 10% of the herd by a team including vet, farm manager and grooms. Different animals are selected at each visit by using the farm named list of donkeys.


Results are recorded via excel, graphical representation and written documentation. The results can be sub-divided in many ways depending upon clinical need.


Using EBC and AWIN provides the vet team with tools to pro-actively monitor donkey health, refine management practices, re-direct budgets and track progress. Welfare can be bench marked and improvements aimed for. Monitoring / recording welfare data allows The Donkey Sanctuary to be compliant with national legislation. Although a number of welfare assessment tools are available AWIN is validated and straightforward to use. The poster will illustrate 4 quarters of data presented graphically.


  1. The Donkey Sanctuary mission staement, accessed 12 December 2017.
  2. The Donkey Sanctuary Animal Management System (Microsoft Dynamic CRM), introduced October 2015 Sarah Tulloch, AMS Manager/Project Lead.
  3. AWIN Protocol for Donkeys, accessed 12 December 2017.
  4. Animal Welfare Act 2006, accessed 12 December 2017.