Welfare Assessment and Husbandry Practices of Working Horses in Fiji
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Easter Bush Campus, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH25 9RG, UK
Chasemore Farm, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3JT, UK
Brooke, 2nd Floor, The Hallmark Building, 52–56 Leadenhall Street, London EC3M 5JE, UK
School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Tennent Drive, Palmerston North 4474, New Zealand
New Zealand Veterinary Association, Level 2, 44 Victoria Street, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Easter Bush Campus, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH25 9RG, UK
Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 February 2020 / Revised: 24 February 2020 / Accepted: 25 February 2020 / Published: 28 February 2020
In low and middle-income countries, working equids play an essential role in supporting the livelihoods of their owners. The primary objective of the study was to provide the first description of the welfare status of working horses in Fiji by analysing owner and animal-based parameters and owner perceptions of husbandry and healthcare. A total of 279 Fijian horse owners were questioned on their husbandry and healthcare practices and the welfare of their horses was assessed. Horse owners who were supporting a greater number of dependent family members had horses with an increased prevalence of wounds than those with less dependents. Wounds were more prevalent in horses used for draught work and “carrying people or goods on back” while hoof neglect was associated with draught and breeding/other work. A lower body condition score was found in horses with neglected hooves and the presence of hoof neglect and wounds was associated with a negative general attitude in these horses. However, this study also found indicators of good welfare in these horses. These findings suggest that intervention, in the form of targeted veterinary services alongside training programs for owners, is required in order to improve the welfare of working horses in Fiji.