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Assessment of the welfare of working horses, mules and donkeys, using health and behaviour parameters

By J. C. Pritchard, A. C. Lindberg, D. C. J. Main, H. R. Whay

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Working animals provide an essential transport resource in developing countries worldwide. Many of these animals are owned by poor people and work in harsh environments, so their welfare is a cause for concern. A protocol was developed to assess the welfare of working horses, mules and donkeys in urban and peri-urban areas, using direct observation of health and behaviour parameters. In this study, 4903 animals used for draught, pack and ridden work in Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Jordan and Pakistan were assessed between December 2002 and April 2003. The data showed that donkeys were more likely than mules or horses to demonstrate avoidance or aggressive behaviour towards an observer, while horses were most likely to make a friendly approach. Fewer than 8% of working equines had abnormal mucous membranes, ectoparasites or poor coat condition. Body lesions occurred predominantly in the areas of the breast/shoulder, withers and girth in all three species, with mules having the highest prevalence of lesions in these areas (22.5, 21.3 and 28.4

Date 2005
Publication Title Preventive Veterinary Medicine
Volume 69
Issue 3/4
Pages 265-283
ISBN/ISSN 0167-5877
Language English
Author Address Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Africa
  2. Aggression
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Animal diseases
  5. Animal health and hygiene
  6. Animal rights
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Asia
  9. Body condition
  10. Coats
  11. Commonwealth of Nations
  12. Developed countries
  13. Donkeys
  14. Draft animals
  15. Egypt
  16. Horses
  17. India
  18. Least developed countries
  19. Lesions
  20. Mammals
  21. Mediterranean region
  22. Methodologies
  23. Middle East
  24. mucus
  25. mules
  26. Pakistan
  27. Parasites
  28. peer-reviewed
  29. riding animals
  30. risk factors
  31. species differences
  32. Techniques
  33. traction animals
  34. withers
  35. Working animals
  1. peer-reviewed