Donkey and people

Donkey and people
Here we are in Tunisia! Dr Jaber Belkhiria and Dr Tricia Andrade were awarded a University of California at Davis Blum Center Poverty Alleviation through Sustainable Solutions graduate student grant. We will be here for a month to assess the role of Tunisian donkeys in development.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Donkey Hoof and Dental Care at Domaine Sidi Mrayah

We spent the day with Malek Lakhoua at his farm, Domaine Sidi Mrayah, where he has over 2000 olive trees on 14 hectares. He primarily makes organic oil olive but has other products like donkey milk soap and essential oils. He keeps 3-5 donkeys and has volunteered at NGO veterinary events for donkeys. He is a human medical doctor but his first passion is his family farm where he hopes to  develop agri-tourism. He is interested in helping us improve donkey welfare and connect us with his local community. We agreed a good place to start was at his farm to show him some of the things we wanted to do for the donkeys of Tunisia.

Malek had a veterinarian (who was unfamiliar with farriery) do a little hoof care about a year ago on Cleopatra. Fortunately, the donkeys are used to Malek's frequent hands-on care and they all behaved like fancy well-trained horses - evidence donkeys often get a bad reputation for misbehaving, but in fact they are quite agreeable creatures.  (you can click on the photo to see full size)

a patient Dolchita calmly allows the first look

Tricia demonstrates a hoof trim with nippers, hoof knife and file

Malek gives it a try after finding a comfortable position

a very happy fast learner removes Ramses'  baby toe excess

The hooves were all long, chipped and very hard. We limited our care this first visit to just the front feet and were modest in the amount of hoof we removed because we did not want to stress the donkeys or cause lameness. Dolchita had a chunk of plant stubble wedged into a crack in the center of her toe (top right photo) demonstrating the importance of checking hooves frequently before problems arise.
Dolchita's left front (top) and right front (bottom) hooves before trim

Dolchita's toe after initial trim

Next project - the teeth! Malek said these donkeys had never had bits in their mouths and the teeth had never been addressed. Equines develop sharp points on their teeth which can diminish proper grinding of food and cause sores in the mouth. These points can be filed off to create a smooth beveled edge and more effective grinding.

Malek watches the teeth filing while Ramses checks out the tools in the background.

Listening to the magical sound of the file against the now smoothed tooth points

Malek, who is a human medical doctor, is very pleased with his new animal care skills

A successful veterinary care morning was followed by a delicious lunch and tour of his farm.
Homegrown cereal grains are fed to the donkeys
Frozen donkey milk waiting to be transformed into soap

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