The twitch in donkeys
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Abstract Objective: to assess the effectiveness of the muzzle twitch in donkeys Animals: five donkeys serving as their own controls Procedures: painful stimuli were applied to a donkey with and without use of a muzzle twitch. Effectiveness was measured by use of behavioural, cardiovasculair (HR, HRV) and hormonal (ACTH, cortisol and ß-endorphins) parameters. Results: donkeys responded less to painful stimuli under influence of the twitch compared to the control group. Mean HR was significantly increased during the twitch procedure after applying the twitch. Administration of painful stimuli in the twitch procedure did not further increase mean HR. Mean HR during the procedure without the twitch significantly increased after applying painful stimuli. The use of the twitch resulted in a significant increase in mean plasma ACTH concentration. The use of the twitch did not result in significant differences in mean plasma ß-endorphin concentrations. Conclusions and clinical relevance: although twitching of donkeys led mainly to a hormonal stress response without concurrent increases in ß-endorphin concentration, the response to painful stimuli was clearly less. Therefore, it is advisable to use a twitch for restraining donkeys when to perform mildly painful and/or brief procedures.