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Open AccessArticle

A New Framework for Assessing Equid Welfare: A Case Study of Working Equids in Nepalese Brick Kilns

1
The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0NU, UK
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Animal Nepal, Dhobhighat, Lalitpur 44600, Nepal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(6), 1074; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10061074
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.
Equids fulfil many different roles within communities. In low- to middle-income countries (LMICs), in addition to providing a source of income, equids also provide essential transport of food, water, and goods to resource-limited and/or isolated communities that might otherwise lack access. The aim of this investigation was to understand the welfare conditions that donkeys, mules, and horses are exposed to whilst working in Nepalese brick kilns. To understand the welfare conditions of equids in Nepalese brick kilns, the Welfare Aggregation and Guidance (WAG) tool in conjunction with the Equid Assessment, Research and Scoping (EARS) tool was used to understand the health, behaviour, nutrition, living and working conditions in brick kilns. Further analysis of individual EARS responses focused on key indicator questions relating to demographic information was used to investigate specific areas of welfare concern and attitudes of handlers towards their equids. Trained staff carried out welfare assessments between December 2018 and April 2019. The information gathered using the EARS tool was summarised using the WAG tool to pinpoint areas of welfare concern and suggest possible strategies to mitigate poor welfare conditions and suggest areas to improve the welfare of equids. Overall, the results indicate that to improve the welfare of equids working in Nepalese brick kilns, there should be better provision of clean water, both when working and stabled, equipment should be removed and shade provided during rest periods, with improvements made to housing to allow the equids to rest and recuperate when not working. Further work should also focus on collaborating with owners and equid handlers to improve their attitudes and practices towards their equids. Such improvements can be implemented via training of equid handlers and kiln owners whilst using the EARS and WAG tools to provide a sound basis on which to monitor the effectiveness and impact of education programs on equid welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: welfare aggregation; equid welfare; brick kilns; resource allocation; handler attitude welfare aggregation; equid welfare; brick kilns; resource allocation; handler attitude
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Norris, S.L.; Kubasiewicz, L.M.; Watson, T.L.; Little, H.A.; Yadav, A.K.; Thapa, S.; Raw, Z.; Burden, F.A. A New Framework for Assessing Equid Welfare: A Case Study of Working Equids in Nepalese Brick Kilns. Animals 2020, 10, 1074.

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