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The Use of Draught Animals in Rural Labour

By D. Mota-Rojas, A. Braghieri, A. Álvarez-Macías, F. Serrapica, E. Ramírez-Bribiesca, R. Cruz-Monterrosa, F. Masucci, P. Mora-Medina, F. Napolitano

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This study discusses scientific findings on the use of draught animals such as equids (i.e., horses, mules, and donkeys) and bovids (i.e., cattle and water buffaloes) in rural labours. Relevant peer-reviewed literature published between 1980 and 2021 was retrieved from CAB Abstracts, PubMed, ISI Web of Knowledge, and Scopus databases. Although animals were used to produce draught power since their domestication and are still being used for this purpose, mechanisation has markedly reduced animal labour demand in agriculture. However, the process was uneven across continents according to economic constraints, and draught animals are currently concentrated in small production units located on terrains that do not favour agriculture mechanisation in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Generally, equids can work at rates similar to those of bovids or faster but can sustain the work for shorter periods of time. In addition, buffaloes possess tough hooves and resistance to disease that make them suitable for working in wetlands and clay soils. Draught animals allow a marked reduction of both GHG emissions and non-renewable energy consumption as compared with agricultural machinery. In addition, they may allow obtaining profits from otherwise non-usable lands. Therefore, their use should be promoted in rural areas where low investments are usually the only ones feasible, and the energy of the animals can be obtained at a low cost by feeding them harvest residues and by-products. However, more attention should be paid to the quality of human-animal interactions-due to the close contact between animals and humans while working-and to the welfare of draught animals when transported and slaughtered-due to the high prevalence of injuries they suffer when subjected to these practices.

Publication Title Animals (Basel)
Volume 11
Issue 9
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615 (Print)2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani11092683
Author Address Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, DPAA, Campus Xochimilco, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, México City 04960, Mexico.Scuola di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali, Alimentari ed Ambientali, Università degli Studi della Basilicata, 85100 Potenza, PZ, Italy.Dipartimento di Agraria, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, 80055 Portici, NA, Italy.Livestock Program, Colegio de Postgraduados, Texcoco 56230, Mexico.Food Science Department, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Unidad Lerma, Lerma 52172, Mexico.Livestock Department, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), FESC, Mexico City 54715, Mexico.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Buffalo
  3. Cattle
  4. Donkeys
  5. Draft animals
  6. equids
  7. Horses
  8. open access
  1. open access