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Pritchard J.C.,The Brooke | Van Dijk L.,Animals in International Development | Ali M.,Brooke India | Pradhan S.K.,Brooke India
Animal Welfare | Year: 2012

Since 2005, owners of draught and pack horses, mules and donkeys in nine districts of Uttar Pradesh, India, have received support from a UK-based charity, the Brooke. One thousand, three hundred and ninety-six village-level groups of owners and carers, responsible for 29,500 animals, were facilitated to develop their own welfare assessment protocols using a participatory learning and action process adapted from recognised good practice in human social development. Each group assessed the welfare of their animals collectively, using findings to generate action plans for improving equine health, husbandry and working practices. Welfare assessments were repeated at 1 to 3 month intervals. Competitiveness between participants to improve their animals' welfare acted as a driver to increase the number of indicators and sensitivity of rating scales, enabling differentiation of small, incremental improvements in order to identify a 'winner' of each welfare assessment. Binary or three-point 'traffic light' (red-amber-green) scales evolved into a range of 5-, 10-, 20-point or continuous scales, then into multi-level and weighted measures to quantify the welfare improvements seen. Efforts to aggregate multi-dimensional indicators into a single 'winning' score led to indices describing welfare at individual animal level ('welfare index') and population level ('village index'). Benefits of owner-driven monitoring include high levels of commitment and strong peer motivation or pressure to take action. Welfare monitoring and action to improve welfare are integrated within a single process carried out by the same people, in contrast to the separation of evaluation and implementation of welfare improvement seen in inspection or accreditation schemes. Challenges include aggregation of results from a variety of protocols for external analysis, reporting or certification. © 2012 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Source


Reix C.E.,University of Bristol | Dikshit A.K.,Help in Suffering | Hockenhull J.,University of Bristol | Parker R.M.A.,University of Bristol | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Background: Participatory methods are increasingly used in international human development, but scientific evaluation of their efficacy versus a control group is rare. Working horses support families in impoverished communities. Lameness and limb abnormalities are highly prevalent in these animals and a cause for welfare concern. We aimed to stimulate and evaluate improvements in lameness and limb abnormalities in horses whose owners took part in a 2-year participatory intervention project to reduce lameness (PI) versus a control group (C) in Jaipur, India. Methodology/Principal Findings: In total, 439 owners of 862 horses participated in the study. PI group owners from 21 communities were encouraged to meet regularly to discuss management and work practices influencing lameness and poor welfare and to track their own progress in improving these. Lameness examinations (41 parameters) were conducted at the start of the study (Baseline), and after 1 year and 2 years. Results were compared with control horses from a further 21 communities outside the intervention. Of the 149 horses assessed on all three occasions, PI horses showed significantly (P<0.05) greater improvement than C horses in 20 parameters, most notably overall lameness score, measures of sole pain and range of movement on limb flexion. Control horses showed slight but significantly greater improvements in four parameters, including frog quality in fore and hindlimbs. Conclusions/Significance: This participatory intervention succeeded in improving lameness and some limb abnormalities in working horses, by encouraging changes in management and work practices which were feasible within owners' socioeconomic and environmental constraints. Demonstration of the potentially sustainable improvements achieved here should encourage further development of participatory intervention approaches to benefit humans and animals in other contexts. © 2015 Reix et al. Source


Whay H.R.,University of Bristol | Dikshit A.K.,Help in Suffering | Hockenhull J.,University of Bristol | Parker R.M.A.,University of Bristol | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Background: Previous studies have found the prevalence of lameness in working horses to be 90-100%. Risk factors for lameness in this important equine population, together with risk-reduction strategies adopted by their owners, are poorly understood. The objective was to uncover risk factors for lameness and limb abnormalities in working horses, by associating clinical lameness examination findings on three occasions over two years with owner reported changes in equine management and work practices over this period. Methodology/Principal Findings: Twenty-one communities of horse owners in Jaipur, India, took part in a participatory intervention (PI) project aiming to reduce risk factors for poor welfare, particularly lameness and limb problems. Associations between quantitative measures of equine lameness/limb abnormalities and reported changes in management and work practices were compared with 21 control (C) communities of owners where no intervention had taken place. Key findings from 'complete cases', where the same horse stayed with the same owner for the whole study period (PI group = 73 owners of 83 horses, C group = 58 owners of 66 horses), were that more positive statements of change in equine management and work practices were made by PI group owners than C group owners. A mixed picture of potential risk factors emerged: some reported management improvements, for example reducing the weight of the load for cart animals, were associated with improved limbs and lameness, and others, such as making improvements in shoeing and increasing the age at which their animals started work, with negative outcomes. Conclusions/Significance: This study illustrates the complexity and interacting nature of risk factors for lameness in working horses, and highlights the importance of longitudinal investigations that recognise and address this. PI group owners found the project useful and requested similar inputs in future. Our findings demonstrate the value of exploratory and participatory research methodology in the field of working horse welfare. © 2015 Whay et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

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