A New Framework for Assessing Equid Welfare: A Case Study of Working Equids in Nepalese Brick Kilns
The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0NU, UK
Animal Nepal, Dhobhighat, Lalitpur 44600, Nepal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 June 2020 / Revised: 15 June 2020 / Accepted: 18 June 2020 / Published: 22 June 2020
Brick kilns are difficult environments in which to maintain a high level of equid welfare, with equids experiencing poor nutrition, inadequate veterinary care, wounds and musculoskeletal problems from ill-fitting equipment used to transport heavy loads—all of which are exacerbated by hot and dusty working conditions. The Equid Assessment, Research and Scoping (EARS) tool was used to understand the health, behaviour, nutrition, housing and working conditions of working equids in Nepalese brick kilns to better understand ways of improving their welfare. The information gathered using the EARS tool was summarised using the Welfare Aggregation and Guidance (WAG) tool to pinpoint areas of welfare concern and suggest possible mitigation strategies. Overall, results indicate that to improve the welfare of equids working in Nepalese brick kilns, there should be better access to clean water, both when working and stabled, which would improve nutritional welfare. Equipment should be removed during rest periods, which may reduce the number of scars and swellings observed. There should be improvements to the housing regime to allow the equids to rest and recuperate. We show that the attitudes of handlers towards their equid has an impact on the welfare conditions of the equid and suggest training programs to address this, specifically focusing on the impacts of using harmful practices such as hobbling or tethering.