CHAPTER ONE1.0 INTRODUCTION
In Nigeria, like anywhere else, donkey (Equus asinus) has been used as a work animal
mainly for transportation; conveying farm produce to the market or pulling of carts and other
farm tillage equipment (Starkey and Starkey, 2004; Blench et al., 2004; Hassan et al., 2013)
and of recently for production of milk for children, who are allergic to bovine milk (Carrocio
et al., 2000; Caldin et al., 2005; Mansueto et al., 2013), and in animal assisted therapy and
activity in humans (Borioni et al., 2012). However, donkey production is constrained by many
production factors such as poor nutrition, disease, poor genetic potential, management and
harsh environmental factors (Ademosum, 1994; Yilma et al., 1997; Simenew et al., 2011). Of
all the factors, poor nutrition and disease conditions are rampant with significant impact on
the performance of animals (Ademosum, 1994; Crane, 1997). Donkeys are known to survive
with little management. Their body conditions may fluctuate during the year as feed supply
fluctuates resulting in poor body condition, weight loss and delay in resumption of ovarian
cycles after parturition (Pearson et al., 1999).
The low productivity of livestock on pasture-based extensive grazing systems needs to
be improved, and this entails an evaluation of their nutritional status. The assessment of
nutritional and health status of animals can be made by determining the concentrations of
certain blood metabolite such as non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB),
glucose and cholesterol (Ndlovu et al., 2007). Their concentrations indicate the extent of the
metabolism of energy, proteins and other nutrients in the animals (Pambu-Gollah et al., 2000;
Agenas et al., 2006). Changes in the concentration of circulating nutrient-sensitive
metabolites are important signals of the metabolic status of the animal and the organs function
(Lindsay et al., 1993; Wettemann et al., 2003). Other blood metabolites, such as total protein, albumin, globulin, creatinine and urea, are indicators of the protein status. Factors including the physiological status of an animal, health status, breed, nutrition, season and age may affect the concentration of these metabolites in the blood (Ndlovu et al., 2007).
It has been established that rectal temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate are
relevant body parameters for immediate evaluation of stress and health status and adaptability
of animals (Ayo et al., 1996; Minka and Ayo 2007; Dey et al., 2010). Disease diagnosis in
animals is largely dependent on physiological examination and laboratory results expected to
reflect biological variations. This in turn requires understanding of the basal physiological,
haematological and serum biochemical profiles of an apparently healthy animal whose
measurement provides invaluable information concerning the health status of an animal (Mori
et al., 2003; Mori et al., 2004).
Haematological evaluations were carried out for a variety of reasons such as screening
procedure to determine the general health and nutritional status of the animal, as an adjunct to
an infection and to ascertain the progress of disease conditions (Friday et al., 2014) and
distinguish between normal and stress conditions (Olabanji et al., 2007). Haematological
values provide baseline information for comparison in conditions of nutrient deficiency,
physiology and health status of farm animals (NseAbasi et al., 2014) and help in providing
information on the relationship between blood characteristics and the environment (Ovuru and
Ekweozor, 2004; Isaac et al. 2013).
However, unlike other livestock species, there is very scanty information on the
baseline physiological, haematological and serum biochemical parameters of the donkey in
Nigeria, some of the works published includes; Yakubu and Chafe (2005); Garba et al.
(2015); Zakari et al. (2015) and Zakari et al. (2016). Therefore, a study on the donkey to
Home Agricultural Science Project Topics PROFILING PHYSIOLOGICAL, HAEMATOLOGICAL AND SERUM BIOCHEMICAL PARAMETERS OF DONKEYS (Equus asinus) IN...