This study was conducted from October, 2013 to May, 2014 to identify and compare common health and welfare problems of pack donkeys and cart horses in and around Holeta town, central Ethiopia. The presence of the problems was directly assessed on 301 pack donkeys and 84 cart horses, and indirectly assessed in the areas where the study animals were living, grazing and working. Indirect assessments of the problems were also conducted using focus group discussions with 64 equine owners and 8 animal health professionals. Oral problems (2.3 and 16.7%), back sore (13.6 and 1.2%), girth sore (2.7 and 17.9%), tail base sore (15.6 and 0%), abnormal behavior (14.3 and 0%), epizootic lymphangitis (EL) (0 and 10.7%), wound (33 and 44%) and hoof overgrowth (62.5 and 35.7%) were identified on pack donkeys and cart horses, respectively. Indirect assessments indicated that the animals are affected by strangles, tetanus, anthrax, colic, lameness, EL, wounds, parasites, sarcoids, rabies, African horse sickness, owner abuses, shortage of feed and water, and housing problems in the area. This study revealed that back sore, tail sore and abnormal behavior were more frequently occurring in pack donkeys whereas girth sore and oral problems were more common in cart horses. Cart horses were highly affected by epizootic lymphangitis. Both species were more or less similarly affected by lameness, strangles, tetanus, colic, wounds, parasites, owner abuses, and lack of proper feeding, watering and housing. Therefore, awareness creation of the population about the use of these animals for working and good management system should be promoted by the government in the area. Capacity building services should also be delivered for local animal health professionals.
Key words: Donkeys, horses, health, welfare, Ethiopia.
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