Scientific Research

A boy and his donkey in Senegal

A boy and his donkey in Senegal

Brooke's Scientific Research Improves the Lives and Futures of Working Equids and Their Owners

Research takes time, effort, and money, but we believe that this investment is worth making for the long-term improvement in welfare of working equine animals.  

Expenditure on research enables the Brooke to allocate our limited charity resources where there is the greatest need, but also on activities that will have a sustainable impact.

Brooke's evidence-based approach to scientific research includes:

A Brooke veterinarian and assistant in India treat a working horse for colic.

A Brooke veterinarian and assistant in India treat a working horse for colic.

•Identifying areas where significant numbers of equids work in high risk activities, such as brick kilns or rubbish dumps, as well as identifying the causes of suffering. We do this by directly assessing the welfare of equids themselves and by looking at the broad risks for poor welfare arising from their environment, their owner’s situation and type of work they do.

•Prioritizing the most common or most severe problems and analyzing their causes in more detail with animal-owning communities, enabling us to develop appropriate and effective welfare improvement programs incorporating scientific evidence, working together with their owners.

•Planning welfare improvement interventions with animal owners and users, animal health workers and service providers, policy-makers and others who can influence working equid welfare, in order to develop and apply appropriate and long-lasting solutions.

•Monitoring and evaluating results for both equids and owners to ensure that interventions have been effective.

•Sharing our learning within, between, and beyond the countries where we work.

Watch a short video about why we place so much importance on scientific research.

 


A Brooke researcher, Dr Shushmita, at the Paras brick kiln in Baghpat.

A Brooke researcher, Dr Shushmita, at the Paras brick kiln in Baghpat.

Research at Brooke

Research is integral to the Brooke's evidence-based approach to improving the welfare of working equine animals.

It has helped us to gather objective data on what we should be working on, and ensures that limited charity resources are allocated to where there is most need.

Historically, the Brooke’s work focused on providing emergency veterinary treatment for the obvious problems. However, we realized that this was not a sustainable model and it did not achieve long-term improvements in equine welfare.


A Brooke Nepal Animal Welfare Facilitator explains the importance of Tetanus vaccinations to a group of equine owners.

A Brooke Nepal Animal Welfare Facilitator explains the importance of Tetanus vaccinations to a group of equine owners.

 We also realized that for purposes of sustainability we needed to find out more about the underlying causes of animals’ problems to see if there were ways to help owners prevent them from happening in the first place.

Research has helped us understand the issues that affect the equine animal owners and their communities, and enabled us to take a more proactive approach to improving the welfare of working equids. 

Research takes time, effort and money, but we believe that this investment is worth making for the long-term improvement in the welfare of working equine animals.


A Brooke veterinarian in Pakistan shows an owner how to treat and protect a wound on his donkey.

A Brooke veterinarian in Pakistan shows an owner how to treat and protect a wound on his donkey.

A Three-Step Approach

1. What are the problems? 

Research helps us determine which issues are the most prevalent and the biggest welfare concerns to address for working equids in developing countries. 

An initial study covering nearly 5,000 horses, donkeys and mules across five of Brooke’s countries was undertaken in 2003/4. This was our largest ever study and helped ensure our future work decisions were as evidence based as possible. It enabled us to quantify the most frequent problems and see whether these differed by species, work type or location. It also created a standardized tool for welfare assessment which Brooke country programs still use in their day-to-day work.

2. What are the underlying causes?

Research projects have helped investigate the underlying causes of specific key problems.

The findings have helped to support, inform and build the capacity of our country programs and partners to understand the welfare problems relevant to their unique situation and to design and evaluate relevant intervention strategies to address these problems. 

Across the countries we identified that some problems look the same but happen for different reasons. Sometimes the results were not always what we expected. This shows how vital research is to ensure our advice given to owners will really help.

A Brooke veterinary assistant teaches a hands-on demonstration of equine welfare to a group of Lady Livestock Workers in Pakistan.

A Brooke veterinary assistant teaches a hands-on demonstration of equine welfare to a group of Lady Livestock Workers in Pakistan.

3. What are the best solutions?

How will changes make a difference?

We aim to undertake sector-leading research on equid welfare issues to help identify the best solutions. It is essential to check the proposed change is as successful as we hope and that owners see the improvements themselves. If they are, one owner will tell another and soon a whole community and their animals can benefit.

By finding the best solutions, we are working towards ensuring that communities and service providers are enabled to improve and sustain optimal welfare for working equine animals both in the short- and long-term.


A Brooke veterinarian in Guatemala talks with an equine owner.

A Brooke veterinarian in Guatemala talks with an equine owner.


Everyone is a researcher at Brooke

The Brooke is committed to working with owners to improve the welfare of their working equids

By involving working equine owning communities in research, we are able to incorporate existing knowledge into projects leading to greater acceptance of the research findings and making positive change easier to implement.

The research program is driven by each country's needs, to ensure the work of Brooke branches, affiliates and partners is based on locally valid evidence.

The Brooke uses a range of methods and approaches to answer field-based questions. In particular we encourage participatory methodologies with the equine-owning communities.

We have benefited from adopting approaches which have been applied successfully in the promotion of public health and in the agricultural extension and livelihoods sector. 


Wider Learning and Advocacy for Change

Our evidence-based approach increases the Brooke’s credibility in the wider world of animal welfare organizations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), policy and decision makers, and veterinary science, as being a global authority on working equine welfare issues.

By sharing practical and credible research, reports and guides, we can help other organizations take into consideration -or in some in some cases integrate - equine welfare more effectively into their work.

By publishing research findings, we strengthen our impact on working equine animal welfare within and beyond the geographical areas in which we work, through advocacy and collaborating with local, national and international institutions.


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Working Equid Veterinary Manual

One result of our research is our "Working Equid Veterinary Manual," written and published by Brooke veterinarians and researchers.  This book is the first of its kind, written collaboratively through a wiki with hundreds of photos, with each chapter illustrated by a case study of a working equid being treated by a Brooke vet.  It offers true insight and pragmatic, practical advice on how to provide effective veterinary care for working animals in developing countries.

It brings together Brooke vets from 11 countries around the world to provide practical, evidence-based information about how to treat, manage and prevent disease and suffering in working equids.  It captures the Brooke’s 80 years of experience in developing countries and focuses on context-appropriate case management, emphasising the importance of good owner communication and the options of working in resource-limited environments.  


A Brooke veterinarian in Ethiopia makes friends with a mare and foal before examining them.

A Brooke veterinarian in Ethiopia makes friends with a mare and foal before examining them.

Brooke Research Ethics

The Brooke does not carry out invasive research.

All research projects must be designed to ensure no negative effect on animal welfare and to uphold and enhance the reputation of the Brooke. They must also meet standards expected for research activities by the wider research community outside the Brooke. 

To ensure that high levels of ethical research are achieved, the Brooke employs a systematic process for initiation and approval of research which includes submission of concept notes and research protocols.

There is an Animal Welfare Ethics Review Body which assists, where necessary, in the review of research proposals to ensure compliance with appropriate ethical principles in relation to both human and animal welfare.


A Brooke veterinarian in Egypt conducts a community awareness session on equine welfare.

A Brooke veterinarian in Egypt conducts a community awareness session on equine welfare.

Brooke researchers often undertake research involving direct interaction with equine owners and their communities

Brooke researchers carrying out work in communities must:

horse in Guatemala looking for something to graze www.BrookeUSA.org.jpg
  • Seek informed consent and ensure that the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of research participants are considered and that any potential risks are mitigated

  • Ensure that the collection of data complies with ethical and legal requirements within the country in which the research is undertaken

  • Inform all participants of the intended use of the research

  • Ensure that all participants have the opportunity to receive feedback on the results of research in which they are involved

  • ensure confidentiality of individually attributable data in accordance with data protection requirements in the country of origin.

Although the context can vary widely, the majority of research projects undertaken at the Brooke directly involve equids. Some research projects inevitably involve close contact examination and clinical sample collection. All research projects undertaken at the Brooke must adhere to the Brooke’s Animal Welfare Policy.

The research concept note/research protocols include an explanation of why such procedure(s) is/are unavoidable for purposes of achieving the aim of the proposal. The Animal Welfare Ethics Review Body is responsible for reviewing all research projects which may involve such ethical considerations to ensure that the study is designed to minimise the potential adverse impact to which any participants are exposed.


Research takes time, effort and money, but we believe that this investment is worth making for the long-term improvement in the welfare of working equine animals. 

Ashleigh Brown, Welfare Advisor for the Brooke, conducts a welfare assessment on a horse in Nicaragua. 

Ashleigh Brown, Welfare Advisor for the Brooke, conducts a welfare assessment on a horse in Nicaragua. 

Expenditure on research enables the Brooke to allocate our limited charity resources where there is both most need, but also on activities that will have a sustainable impact.

The Brooke evaluates the success of its research by how welfare practices and ways of working have been changed as a result of research undertaken in the field.

Although the process of research can be slow in order to do it well, there is an urgent need for research to take place and be supported, so problems can be properly understood, and appropriate changes made to improve the welfare of more animals worldwide.

 


Karen Reed, Head of Animal Welfare and Research for the Brooke, meets a horse in one of the Brooke-engaged communities in India

Karen Reed, Head of Animal Welfare and Research for the Brooke, meets a horse in one of the Brooke-engaged communities in India

This is Reema. While grazing in a forest in Meerut , India, she escaped from her tether and was missing for three days. Her owner was panicked when she was found in a swamp, unable to stand. Worried that Reema’s condition would get worse, he immediately called the Brooke emergency number. The Brooke team, led by Dr Rajen, gave Reema a full examination and found that she was paralyzed in her back legs and suffering from pneumonia and stress. Dr Rajen treated Reema with painkillers and medication to fight the partial paralysis. She was then placed on a drip to give her back her strength. Dr Rajen then spoke with her owner and explained that he would need to wrap Reema in a warm cloth to help her recover. Dr Rajen also prescribed a mild antibiotic and vitamin and mineral meal supplements. Brooke staff kept in contact  and Reema recovered well. Her owner was delighted at her progress, and said: “When I saw her in the swamp I had little hope, but I am really impressed with the skill of the Brooke team and I thank them for saving my donkey.”

This is Reema. While grazing in a forest in Meerut , India, she escaped from her tether and was missing for three days. Her owner was panicked when she was found in a swamp, unable to stand. Worried that Reema’s condition would get worse, he immediately called the Brooke emergency number. The Brooke team, led by Dr Rajen, gave Reema a full examination and found that she was paralyzed in her back legs and suffering from pneumonia and stress. Dr Rajen treated Reema with painkillers and medication to fight the partial paralysis. She was then placed on a drip to give her back her strength.

Dr Rajen then spoke with her owner and explained that he would need to wrap Reema in a warm cloth to help her recover. Dr Rajen also prescribed a mild antibiotic and vitamin and mineral meal supplements. Brooke staff kept in contact  and Reema recovered well. Her owner was delighted at her progress, and said: “When I saw her in the swamp I had little hope, but I am really impressed with the skill of the Brooke team and I thank them for saving my donkey.”