CAUSES OF DAMAGE
THEIR WORK AND
HOW THEY ARE
DANGER FOR DONKEYS
PARTICULAR AREAS OF CONCERN
general hitching for traction
DIFFICULT TO STOP
FORWARD MOVEMENT OF
IF THERE ARE WHEELS, NO MATTER HOW MANY:
Pulling animals must have some way of
stopping the forward movement of the
vehicle, even if it has brakes,
by means of a
Or, going downhill, the vehicle could
run into the back of the animal.
A spare tyre, but no
CART TILTS BALANCE OF
LOAD ONTO (OR OFF)
PRESENT THE MOST PROBLEMS.
HITCHING METHODS MUST TAKE CARE
Balance of weight over wheels;
Placement of weight on animal;
WE ALL KNOW THIS ONE -
Load too far back can
be pretty obvious.
But what about load too
far forward ?
BECAUSE LOADING IS
ALWAYS DONE AFTER
ANIMALS ARE HITCHED
The shaft (disselboom) of a cart acts as a lever, so that
the weight is greatest at its end.
SO HOW IS THIS WEIGHT PUT ON THE ANIMAL/S ?
VERTICAL WEIGHT OF
UNBALANCED CART TRANSFERRED
AND ENHANCED BY LEVER EFFECT
A simple solution is to use TWO common breastband
harnesses, front and back.
HOWEVER: hitching and adjustment must make sure that
any pressures are felt by the donkey in the right place.
(NOTE that an animal pushes on a harness to pull what is behind.)
FOR HORSES, a neckstrap has generally been
used, to put the weight on the animal’s withers.
AND IF DONKEYS ARE REGARDED AS ‘SMALL HORSES’,
this is what gets recommended and universally used
BUT HORSES AND DONKEYS HAVE
Especially look at angle of neck
and back related to withers.
(Top of scapula
horse & donkey
scapula in same
PRETTY EASY TO CHECK WHERE THE WEIGHT
Just put a hand under each strap.
Usually the neckstrap is found to take it
NOT in middle
of back !
Some can be
DONKEYS SHOULD CAN CHOKE
OR BE WOUNDED WHEN PULLING
WHERE BALANCE IS NOT INVOLVED,
But PULLING (i.e. pushing on a harness)
The variable felt by a pulling animal is resistance, e.g. with
WAGONS: loadweight felt by animals
only on gradients, otherwise wheel
bearings determine the amount of
SLEDS & POLES:
roughness of surface.
PLOUGHS: make of implement, soil
texture, depth of cut.
BUT MORE CAN HAPPEN IF A NECKSTRAP IS USED.
INSTEAD OF PUSHING ON A HARNESS TO PULL THE CART,
THE DONKEY OFTEN ENDS UP PUSHING ON THE
There are mechanical reasons for what can often be observed.
In addition, if the load on the cart lifts the disselboom, the
transverse pole will also be lifted, sometimes to just under the
NOT INVOLVE NEW
Some loss of efficiency is always involved, but tandem is easier
and safer for animals, and easier for humans to manage.
Weight of unbalanced cart, however, can only be taken by those
animals directly in front of the cart.
One animal between
two shafts is much
if hitching is
And additions are easy
There is also TURNING to be considered.
Again, there is no sense in making it difficult
for animals and reducing their efficiency.
This is why swingles and eveners should
always be used.
Animals should not exercise torque through the cart itself,
but through a swivel point.
Thus many hitching problems for
donkeys have their origins in:
IGNORING THEIR DIFFERENCE
from horses and/or oxen
Also a management
issue, HARNESSING plays a
minor role, but can give
problems of its own through:
can result in:
Pressure on the wrong
Material moves against
skin, not with it.
SO adjustability is essential.
Angles and levels change
too much in use.
Twisting at joins.
Two backstraps seem to help, also rings used at ‘right angle’
joins so that angle can adjust and the straps can lie flat.
So that: !
Edges cut flesh.
Do not stretch with skin
and muscle, but against them.
Do not absorb sweat and
Breastband folds into
narrow cutting rope
ALSO - because donkeys are seen as ‘small (& inferior) horses’
BRIDLES AND BITS
have become widely adopted
Although not really needed by donkeys, who
respond better to voice and gesture.
In West Africa, such things are rarely seen.
Aside from being unnecessary, bits are difficult for poor people
to acquire, and eventually they break.
So they are mended and contrived with
WIRE or CHAIN
It also seems to be widely believed that bits are not so much
for guiding the animal but for helping the driver to remain
stable on the vehicle, holding and pulling as tightly as possible.
So wounding easily results.
BLINKERS are not only unnecessary on donkeys,
but are often uselessly placed.
Besides, donkeys may need to see hazards
to the sides. They will respond appropriately.
OTHER MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS:
Continuing use when injured or
Expense of veterinary treatment
Freedom from fences, especially
Angry neighbours, who make
animals suffer in place of owners.
This is important to owners in areas of high incidence of
donkey theft – thieves sell in a market where questions are
not asked because the value of the animal is so low.
TRADITIONAL STRATEGIES ARE –
Nicking or cropping of ears
This can eventually result in
very little ear remaining.
Where cattle densities are high, ticks are more of a
problem, and where donkey densities high, worms are.
People often know of these problems, but do not know how to
deal with them in donkeys. Donkeys may get dipped with
Some examples of TRADITIONAL STRATEGIES :
Ticks: - cut ears
- powder from batteries
- used motor oil
Worms: - infusion of aloe and potassium
- veterinary not suitable for equids
(And I have lists of ‘traditional remedies’ for all sorts of
things, many of which seem to use cow dung.)
THE TERRIBLE MYTHS
THAT HAVE ARISEN
In South Africa, historical research has uncovered the
fact that it is often cattle-owners who are responsible
for these, not wanting the grazing competition that they
imagine donkeys pose.
A CATEGORIZATION OF THE BELIEFS
Donkeys and people: Donkeys kick and bite, they are dangerous: they tend to kick people to death.
Donkeys are disease-ridden: they can infect the people who handle them.
Donkeys are inedible, except by lions, so they attract lions, which will then also eat people.
Donkeys smell bad.
Farmers want cattle not donkeys; donkeys are only for the lowest orders of society.
Donkeys have no owners or names.
Donkeys are non-productive; they are expendable.
Donkeys cause road accidents.
Donkeys are stupid and stubborn.
Donkeys won’t work in the rain .
Donkeys need shoes on their feet.
Donkeys and environments: Donkey manure is poisonous to plants.
Donkey urine burns the soil .
Donkeys destroy trees and the environment generally , causing erosion.
Donkeys tear grass out of the ground .
Donkeys graze 24 hours out of 24 and thus consume more than cattle.
Donkeys and other animals: Donkeys poison the ground and kill pastures.
Donkeys eat more than cattle.
Donkeys eat more than goats do .
Particularly feral donkey impair subsistence goat keeping.
Donkeys waste fodder .
Donkey have a higher impact on the remaining vegetation .
There are too many donkeys.
But also: Donkeys never get sick..
Donkeys never die
NONE OF THE STATEMENTS BELOW HAVE ANY BASIS IN FACT AND ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY
RESEARCH OF ANY KIND.
THANK YOU !
AND PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME
(PREFERABLY BY E-MAIL)
ANY TIME, AND EVEN BETTER IF YOU CAN VISIT.