How to care for a pet rabbit

Biology of the Rabbit

In my last article on Rodents, some of my readers indicated that they had a rabbit as a pet when they were young,

farm domestic rabbits -Onkel Ramirez-Pixabay

and thought maybe a rabbit was in the same family as the rodents. The answer to that question is no, they are not the same family, but they are both mammals.

A quick definition of a mammal is that they are warm blooded, they have hair or fur and feed their young with milk. That makes both Rodents and Rabbits mammals, but Rabbits are of the family Leporids. Rabbits require a lot of care as pets.

Dwarf Rabbit -here and Now Pixabay

They differ from Rodents in that Rabbits have two pairs of incisor teeth while Rodents only have one pair. These teeth continue to grow as long as the animal lives. The long ears of Rabbits help regulate heat. The average body weight of a female rabbit is 4 to 13 pounds. Average weight of a male rabbit is 4 to 11 pounds.

Rabbits are descended from the European Wild Rabbit. They also have a third eyelid which may be to keep out dirt and debris since Rabbits are burrowers. There are over 100 different breeds of rabbit descendants, all stemming from the European wild Rabbit.


Jack Rabbit Rich Roberson Pixabay

There are The many small, varied in color farm rabbits, Pampas rabbits, Jack rabbits, Alaska White rabbits, the Hare, dwarf rabbits, just to name a few. The New Zealand White rabbit is used most in biomedical research.

Female rabbits are called Does, male rabbits are called Bucks and baby rabbits are called Kits Normal litters are four to ten kits. Kits are weaned at 4 to 6 weeks.

Dwarf Rabbits            Pixabay

Rabbits were brought to England from France over 900 years ago. In England, farm fields were separated by hedgerows. Rabbits burrowed under the hedgerows and quickly multiplied.

Their fur was coveted for clothing, and they were convenient for eating. One average rabbit would feed one family for one meal with no waste or need for refrigeration.

Wild rabbits are nocturnal and their main food is grass. Domesticated rabbits eat quite differently. Their average life span is 7 to 12 years.

Rabbits make good pets

Domesticated Rabbits are good candidates for indoor pets. They require as much attention as a cat or a dog. They also return love and affection to their special human. Rabbits are highly social animals. They can be litter-boxed trained and can have the free rein of the house. There is one caveat.

Baby Rabbit  conger design  Pixabay

Rabbits chew EVERYTHING: baseboards, rugs, furniture, beds, electric cords. It’s those ever growing incisors. It’s best if the rabbit has a  controlled living space such as a large crate or cage, or a bunny condo.

Rabbit housing must be large enough to house a bunny bed, a litter box, water and food containers, and plenty of space to hop around. Experts suggest at least a crate four feet long, two feet wide and four feet high with a solid bottom. Inside, cover the bottom with a blanket, mat, blanket, or towels.

The litter box can be made to attract the rabbit to use it for the prescribed habit. The litter box can be a regular one that would be used for a cat. Most are plastic and should be shallow–so the bunny can step over and in. Line the pan with newspapers and fill with hay. Makes a miniature yard where bunny will “go.”

Make sure water bowls are heavy and hard to tip over–ideally made of ceramic or metal. Rabbits may be no larger than the average house cat, but they need space to stretch out or move around.

Rabbits need a lot of care

Rabbits need regular visits to the Vet. Young rabbits need to be spayed(female) or neutered(male) if they are going to be house pets. Sometimes rabbits get sick even though they have been carefully cared for. Vet bills can be high.

Rabbits are amazing, affectionate and social. They can be great house pets, but they require more care than most people think. Rabbits are unique pets. They can live free rein in a rabbit proof room or they can be contained in a rabbit condo.

Rabbits that are caged should be let out for a few hours a day for exercise, play and some cuddling. Do not isolate them from the whole family. They thrive on social contact with humans.

Rabbit diet and Grooming

Some people refer to a salad as “rabbit food.” Well that is not so far off from the truth. Rabbits are true vegetarians. Their diet consists of hay – fresh hay every day and Timothy hay and grass every day. Alfalfa for baby rabbits and some alfalfa for adult rabbits, as well as the timothy hay, grass or oat hay. They also need commercially made fiber pellets and fresh greens every day. Fresh leafy green veggies such as collard greens, beet greens, broccoli, romaine lettuce and carrots are favored.

Rabbits need to be brushed every day when shedding. Their fur is short and dense and needs regular maintenance. Nails need to be clipped several times a year. Learn how to do it from your vet before attempting to do it yourself. Change the litter box every day.

Conclusion

Girl with pet. Adina Voich Pixabay

Rabbits make good pets. They are social creatures, they will want a lot of attention from their special human. They do need a lot of special care and a varied veggie diet. Plan to spend a quantity of time with them. Watch out for a kick from the hind legs. Rabbits have no defense except to run, and the hind legs can propel them at a distance for a head start.

I’m Barbara Nelson and I hope you liked this article. Would love to hear from you. My thanks to PetMD Editorial,Feb. 2016 and Biology of the Rabbit- Derian Picazo.

Adopting a Miniature Horse; Adopt a miniature Donkey; adopt a Burro Program

Intro

 

Most animal lovers will agree that baby animals are cute. A few more dedicated animal lovers will agree that some baby animals are adorable. I have to concede that of all baby animals, the very cutest are the Continue reading “Adopting a Miniature Horse; Adopt a miniature Donkey; adopt a Burro Program”

Miniature Pigs as House Pets

 

Potbellied Pigs

Intro

Ever think about having a pet that is unusual in most people’s minds? We are constantly bombarded with pleas to rescue dogs and /or cats that need homes. We have an overflow of these little pups and kittens that need forever homes.

Actually, rescue centers and humane societies are over flowing with animals that need homes. There are more animals that need homes, Continue reading “Miniature Pigs as House Pets”

How to Take Care of your Pet

Intro

My website is dedicated to pets-all -kinds of pets. What kind of housing is right for them, the best kinds of food for them, do they need warm or cool places, do they live in wide open spaces, or cozy small spots.  Are there people who can treat them for health problems?

What qualifies an animal as a pet?

When the subject of pets comes up, most people Continue reading “How to Take Care of your Pet”

Does Your Cat Have Senile Dementia?

Intro

Julie and Janie

Cats are the most delightful and surprising creatures. They can be exasperating and captivating, all within minutes. I have lived with cats almost all my life. When I have had cats, I have wished that I didn’t and when I was without a cat, I could hardly wait until I adopted another one.

I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about cats, their peculiarities and their antics, but one thing I was not prepared for was the diagnosis of my cat’s problem by the vet. She had already been diagnosed with early stage kidney disease, but I had expected that, since she was somewhere between 12 and 16 years old. The diagnosis for her crazy behavior was -what? Senility.

That was a surprise to me. I had never considered that cats, and dogs too, could live long enough to become senile. It seems that our pets are susceptible to the same diseases and conditions as we are.

Better food, living conditions and treatments for diseases have allowed our pets to live longer and healthier lives. As they grow older, their brainpower can slip.

Signs of senility in Cats

Does your cat have senile dementia? Here are some symptoms to look for: loud vocalizing, not using her litter box, not grooming herself, acting disoriented, staring at nothing, sleeping more and more, does not want to be petted or picked up, not eating food, but eating non-food such as: litter, paper, plastic, sand. (eating non-food is a condition known as pica).

Some of these symptoms also indicate arthritis or kidney disease and deafness or blindness. Cats may suddenly refuse food they have always eaten before. Cats depend upon smell to find their food, and if they have lost a sense of smell, it may be difficult to persuade them to eat what you have put down.

With kidney disease, cats will sometimes suffer from nausea, which drives them to eat non-foods, which, in turn causes them to vomit. After these episodes, they are frantic for food and you are right back to where you were again. By the way, if she has emptied her stomach and is through heaving up, she will beg for food. Go ahead and feed her.

All of these activities will leave your cat full of anxiety.

A Tale of Two Cats: How We Arrived at Feline Dementia

I adopted two female cats through Pet Smart’s adoption program in the fall of 2007. They were litter mates and had been together since birth. One was a tortoise shell and the other was a tuxedo cat. Janie was a cat of all colors, and her sister, Julie, was black with white markings. The story was that they were about two years old and their elderly owner could no longer care for them. Julie, the black and white one, jumped all over the cage and ran her feet up and down the glass to get my attention.

Julie and Janie

She was successful. I took them home. I soon found out that Janie had stomach problems. There were days when she could not eat at all. The vet was puzzled, and so was I. I finally allowed the pet hospital to do an endoscopy. The only thing we could find after the procedure was that she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

I should mention something about the girl’s sizes. Julie, the black one was a small boned cat with a normal weight of about 6 to 7 pounds. Janie was a larger boned cat with a normal weight of 8 to 10 pounds. The Veterinary Hospital I was using didn’t have much to offer on how to treat Janie.

Janie

I found a Veterinarian who practiced a blend of holistic and modern medicine. We found that Janie was allergic to almost every kind of food normal cats will eat. We put her on a diet of the foods she wasn’t allergic to and The vet also put her on a low dosage of prednisone. I soon had a brand new happy cat. She gained weight and no more constant vomiting.

I also noticed Julie’s attitude toward Janie. It was one of custodial care. Julie groomed Janie every day from head to toe. She also left some food in her dish, which Janie obligingly ate. Julie slept almost on Janie every day and night as if she was keeping Janie warm and safe.

I started calling Julie, “nurse Julie.” So it continued through the years until finally, last year Janie lost her eyesight and was no longer able to get around the house. She was completely lost. I had no choice but to put her to rest.

I’m not sure what was going through Julie’s mind. We were in the middle of covid and it was difficult getting to the vet’s office. She had a brief bout with a urinary tract infection. She has gained weight, since she isn’t saving food for Janie.

However, she is exhibiting almost all the signs of feline senile dementia, pica included.

Ways to Treat Feline Senile Dementia

There is no one way to treat senility in your cat. It is all trial and error. The first thing I had to do was stop Julie from eating litter. I think she was just licking the litter, but if she got some in her mouth, she swallowed it. She immediately vomited it up, along with anything else in her stomach.

My fear was that with clumping litter she could develop a mass in her stomach that she couldn’t pass. A blockage is serious stuff. I tried shredding newspaper for her box.  She would not use it. I tried just plain paper to line her box. No way would she use it. So I lined her box with newspaper and put just a light covering of litter over the paper. She will use that.

The newspaper lining seems to be discouraging her from trying to lick the litter. Clean up? not too difficult, Lay one complete sheet of paper as your top sheet, then put a light topping of litter over it. After she uses it, I can carefully scoop two or three times before pulling out the soiled paper.

Maintenance is not a big problem. Carefully slide out the soiled paper from the litter. It will sift onto the next layer of paper in the box. When I’m down to the last layer of paper, I clean everything up and re-line the box.

For Julie the trick is to always have food down for her. She is a grazer by nature. That is, she will eat a few bites and leave. Later, she comes and eats a few bites more. I have dry food down all the time, and she will eat it, but that is not her favorite fare. She likes the canned food and the stuff with the gravy on it.

Foods high in antioxidants, vitamin E, Beta Carotene, and fatty acids are recommended for these cats. However, some cats will not eat what you want them to eat.

Whatever your cat’s preference is for food, keep it the same. If she gets picky about the food, just try different things until she settles on a favorite.

Julie has three places to sleep in the apartment and I always look for her in those three places. You will spend quite a bit of time going through the house making sure your cat is not into something that will harm her.

Right now Julie is on Gabapentin twice a day to help with her arthritis pain. She sleeps a lot during the day, but will be up and about in the evening. If your senile cat suffers from Arthritis, your vet can prescribe something to lessen the pain.

I also have bought a diffuser with an essential pet remedy oil that seems to calm her. In addition, I have a rescue remedy that can be sprayed into the air, or rubbed directly on the cat’s head (just a drop or two), or put into her water bowl (just 3 or 4 drops).These are available through your vet, or at any pet store, or online.

Conclusion

If your cat is 14 or older and is exhibiting strange behavior-yowling, missing the box, eating non-food items, not grooming– she may be exhibiting the beginnings of senility. Check with your vet to make sure there is nothing physically wrong, before you decide she is just getting old.

Remember, along with old age, cats will have arthritis and possibly kidney disease. The vet can treat other physical causes in older cats as well.

These things you can do to help your cat cope with old age: Feed them their favorite foods, keep litter boxes clean, use a diffuser with essential oils to calm your cat, or a topical rescue remedy. Don’t change the furniture around. Leave everything in exactly the same place. Your cat may be losing her sight, but if everything is in the same place, she should be able to maneuver around.

She may not be able to jump up to her favorite spots because of arthritis, –your bed, or the couch, or in the window. In that case, set out a stool or steps, so she can climb up to her favorite place. Pet her and hold her, if she wants and lightly groom her if she likes it.  Above all, be patient. If you have had a good relationship with your cat, she will come to you, when things are not going well for her.

Squabbling over making the bed

 

Pictures are old. They were taken when the cats were young.

I’m Barbara Nelson, and I hope you enjoyed this story of my two cats. Feline Senility was new to me and I wanted to let cat lovers  know that it may happen to your older fur babies.

My thanks to Trupanion.com,  CatVills.com, and Animal  Health and Healing in St. Louis for information for this post.

6 Relationship between man and cattle

Intro

Cattle(Aurochs) have been domesticated at least two or three times, according to archaeological and genetic evidence. Cattle were probably among the earliest animals domesticated because of the many products they provide to humans.

First, primary products are food, milk and meat and blood fat. Secondary products include clothing and tools, manufactured from hair, hides, horns, hooves and bone.

Ancient History of Domestication

In early European countries cow dung was used for fuel. Cows can also be used as load bearers and for pulling plows. In communities that use commodities for trade, cows are used in bride wealth and barter.

Wild Aurochs, or wild cattle, were included in cave paintings by Upper Paleolithic hunters in Europe. Aurochs were one of the largest herbivores in Europe. The largest bulls reached shoulder heights of between 160 – 180 centimeters(5.2 – 6 feet) with massive frontal horns of up to 80cm(31 inches)in length.

Auroch Cow ancestor

Archaeologists and Biologists agree there is evidence for two distinct domestication events from Aurochs in the near East about 10,500 years ago and B.indicus(Aurochs) in the Indus Valley about 7000 years ago. There might have been a third domestication in Africa about 8500 years ago.

Recent Studies of DNA suggest that B.Taurus (Auroch) was introduced in Europe and Africa where they inter bred with local wild cattle. It is still debated whether this could be considered a fourth domestication or not. Modern cattle look quite different today from their domesticated ancestors.

A slight decline in overall body size in Aurochs, was noticed in the several sites in southeastern Turkey. This is not unusual with domestication. Small bodied cattle do not appear in the fertile Crescent until late in the upper reaches of the Euphrates river(6th millennial BC), and then all of a sudden.

Taurine cattle were traded across the planet, first into Neolithic Europe (6400 B.C.). They appear in archaeological sites as far away as northeastern Asia( China, Mongolia, Korea) about 5000 years ago.

The earliest domesticated cattle in Africa have been found at Capeletti, Algeria, around 6500 B.C. Cattle remains have also been found at African sites in what is now Egypt, as long ago as 9,000 BC.

Even though Scientists are not absolutely sure about how many domestications there were in Europe and Africa, they are confident that cattle were domesticated very early in human history.

Cattle Industry in the U.S.

Cattle are not native to the United States. The first Cattle were introduced to this country by explorers and settlers from England and Spain. The meat value of cattle and the open range eventually gave birth to a huge industry and the American Cowboy.

Calves grazing

Cattle were first introduced to the U.S. by way of Florida. In 1521 Ponce de Leon brought cattle along on his expedition, and In 1540, Don Diego Maldonado brought cattle with him on his exploratory voyage. Early colonists also brought cattle with them.

History scholars suggest that cattle from these first herds escaped and survived in the wild to make the beginnings of Florida’s cattle industry. Organized ranching began in Florida in 1565 at St Augustine, when herds were brought in from Spain and Cuba. By the 1880s, Florida’s cattle herds were a hearty cross of old Spanish and British stock.

Meanwhile, two Devon heifers and a bull were brought to the American colony of Plymouth from Devonshire, England in 1623.

Texas Longhorns

In 1493, Christopher Columbus brought Spanish cattle to Santo Domingo. Some of his cattle were also introduced to Mexico and these would eventually become the foundation for the Texas Longhorns. In 1690, the first herd of 200 head was driven north to a mission along the Sabine River. This area is now part of Texas.

When Texas became a state in 1836,the Mexicans went back to Mexico and left their free ranging cattle behind. Texas farmers began raising them for their hides and tallow. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Texans left their cattle to fend for themselves. By the end of the war, and Texans returned, they found that Longhorns had reproduced exponentially and had grown to a population of approximately 5 million head .

Both Male and female longhorns sport horns. A bull’s horns are straight, turning a little at the end. A cow’s horns show a variety of sizes and shapes. Calves start sprouting horns at about 3 weeks. Texas longhorns are the most fertile of all beef breeds.

Another British livestock was bred in Hereford, England in the 1800s. This new breed flourished in England and were introduced to the United States in 1817 when Henry Clay imported a few to his farm in Kentucky. Since then, Hereford cattle are among the most important breeds in American cattle ranching.

Meanwhile, the three Devon cattle brought to Plymouth in 1623 have been carving out a niche for themselves. The Devon became

known as an ideal breed equally suitable for farm work, dairy production and quality beef. These cattle evolved into what is now known as the American Devon breed.

Industry Changes

Dr. Stephen Hammack- Beef Cattle professor and extension specialist at Texas A&M University has done more than study cattle history-he has lived it. In a recent interview, he said that he has observed beef history for some 70 years.

He says he has seen the industry change dramatically. Cow genetics, population growth and even the “Cowboys created the beef industry we have today.”

Hammack says the number of beef cows in the country peaked about 40 years ago. In the mid 70s. ” We reached the most beef cattle that we’ll ever have in this country.”

Statistically, beef cattle numbers peaked around 1978. Between 1993 and 2008, the number of beef cows in the U.S. declined 2.8 %. The industry isn’t producing fewer cattle, selective breeding has produced bigger cows. Beef producers use fewer cows for the same amount of meat. Even with the small decline, beef cow numbers are still higher than they were in the early 1900s. Why is that? The U.S. population has grown. The beef industry is controlled by supply and demand.

Hammack says many beef cattle are raised in large feed lots, but many small, family run farms have survived and raise beef cattle as well. He says that the size of an average beef cattle herd is 42 animals, and that indicates the presence of small farms.

There are many reasons for the survival of small cattle farms, according to Hammack. Farmers that grow crops may have poor land that won’t grow row crops, and they let cattle graze there. In Texas, land owners can get a tax break on land used for agriculture; another reason to keep cows on their land.

Some just hang on to the land for tradition. Others, who grew up on small farms want to keep the property, “in the family.” Finally, people from non- agriculture backgrounds decide to start a small farm business.

In Texas, a recent drought may change the course of ranching. Texas and much of the Midwest were hit by record- breaking heat waves and drought. Feed prices went sky high and grass on grazing land died. Cattle died, too. A lot of beef producers sold their animals early to recoup what money they could. It’s too soon to tell what changes will happen in the beef industry.

Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is a part of the beef cattle story as well. So why not just keep a Bull or two around? Well, that used to be the way to create herd growth, but bulls are not always cooperative. They are hard to handle, they eat a lot and are constantly stirring up unrest in the herd.

On farms, this process is used to control breeding among different farm animals. In cattle, it is used to produce genetically superior dairy cows and animals for meat production.

Around 1899 and 1900, Russian scientist E.I. Ivanoff began conducting artificial insemination experiments on cattle, horses, birds and sheep. He was the first person recorded to have accomplished the first successful artificial insemination on cows.

History of Dairy Industry

Today’s dairy Industry started in the late 1800s as people moved to the cities. The industry today provides more than just milk and other dairy products. The industry has a short history compared to the total history of agriculture, which dates back to over 10,000 years.

Humans have been drinking milk from cows for thousands of years, but modern dairy farming didn’t begin until after pasteurization and other inventions were developed.

People coming to north America in the 1600s brought cattle from Europe for meat and milk for their families. By the 1800s, cattle breeds were especially developed for dairy production. Up until this time milk and dairy products were produced for families and for local groups.

Dairy Products from Cow’s milk like butter, ice cream, and cheese. are many and good food.

Pasteurization equipment, milking machines, refrigerated milk tank cars, bottling machines, commercial milk bottles, and tuberculin tests for cattle, were developed when people began to move into the cities in the late 1800s.

Federal Regulation of the Industry

In 1895, the Division of Agrostology and the Dairy Division was established to improve quality of dairy products in America, and to make them more acceptable to markets overseas. The meat inspection act was passed in 1895 and congress authorized inspectors to enforce sanitation and hygiene standards in the meat and dairy industries.

The dairy industry began to work on manufacturing butter, condensed milk and cheeses. They also coordinated milk campaigns in cities to help with the surplus of milk created by an increase in production during World War I.

In 1926,the name was changed again to the Bureau of Dairy Industry. Ollie Reed was chief from 1928 to 1953. He is known best for his work on breed improvement. Dr. Ralph Hodgson was Assistant Chief from 1945 to 1953, and was involved in international activity regarding the dairy and livestock industry. Hodgson and Reed wrote a book titled A Dairy Handbook for Tropical America.

Private Sector Dr. Charles E North, physician, public Health officer, inventor and agricultural scientist was instrumental in gaining acceptance of laws around pasteurized Milk. His most significant achievement was the creation of a system of sanitation that helped many farms produce clean milk.

Cows and Climate Change

Scientists at University of California, Davis are measuring gases from cows stomachs that ultimately contribute to global warming. Quantifying these gasses is key to mitigating them and several researchers are investigating economical ways to make livestock more environmentally sustainable around the globe.

Plastic chambers help measure amount of gases coming from cow’s stomach.

In a year one cow can belch 220 lbs. of methane, which is 28 times more potent than carbon Dioxide. Climate Change advocates are urging the public to eat less beef. Scientists challenge that view saying that “forgoing meat is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe.”

UC Prof. is researching ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adding essential oil to cow’s feed.

Better breeding, genetics and nutrition have increased the efficiency of livestock production in the U.S. “We’re now feeding more people with fewer cattle,” one scientist says. But reducing the carbon footprint of livestock worldwide is a big challenge.

Livestock are responsible for 14.5 % of global greenhouse gases. India for example, has the world’s largest cattle population but the lowest beef consumption. Therefore, cows in India live longer and emit more methane in their lifetime. That produces a large environmental footprint.

U.C. Davis scientists are looking for ways to make cows less gassy. One way is to make their high -fiber diet easier to digest.

This sounds simple, but finding an affordable additive so far has been difficult. One U C Davis scientist has come up with a supplement way off the ordinary cow menu: seaweed. They did one trial and found that they had up to a 60 % reduction in methane emissions by using 1 % seaweed in the diet. One drawback is the problem of harvesting enough seaweed to provide a large enough supply for all the herds. UC Davis scientists are hopeful that a feed additive will eventually be found.

Another common critic of beef production is that cows take up nearly half the land in the U.S. Overgrazing can degrade soil health and bio diversity. Yet, if managed correctly, cows help restore healthy soils, conserve sensitive species and enhance overall ecological function. Proper cattle grazing can actually help mitigate climate change.

Calves grazing

Rancher Jerry Spencer maintains about 2500 cattle on the Van Vleck Ranch east of Sacramento. Winter rains has left him with a feast of green pastures. He pays close attention to the grasses, and makes sure the animals have enough to eat but don’t overgraze. He maintains a diversity of native grasses to keep the cows healthy and rotates herds between pastures to give the plants a rest from grazing and an opportunity to recover.

Ranchers really have little or no incentive financially to let their herds overgraze or let their herd’s hooves compact and degrade soils. “Sustainability is keeping everything viable, both economically and biologically,” said Spencer. “Ranchers won’t continue to exist it either one of those are out of balance.”

Finally, some politicians have voiced an opinion that Beef as a food should be banned, because of the methane cows give off. I don’t think that is the right way to go. American scientists have always come up with things to solve environmental situations. I don’t plan on giving up hamburgers. And really, what will the country do with all those cattle herds?

Wallet, change purse, bill holder, watch band and leather book cover made from bovine (cow) leather.

 

Conclusion

It is amazing how much we depend on cattle for meat and milk for food for ourselves and our children. Not only milk but we enjoy items made with milk: butter, cottage cheese, cheeses, ice cream, cream, Not only food but leather– leather jackets, leather shoes, and buttons from horns. Cattle are the animals that keep on giving. It would appear that man and cows are quite different, but in many ways we are not so different. We are both

Leather coat

mammals. Calves are carried inside the mother until term and then are born alive. Calves can walk on all fours shortly after birth. They follow their mother for food and safety until weaned, and usually reach maturity at two years.

The next time any of us sit down to a steak or a milk shake, remember the placid cow, a distant cousin that gives us so many things to eat, to wear, and to use.

Barbara Nelson I hope  you enjoyed reading about the ever so quiet, contented Cow. Would love to hear from my readers.

Some information for this article came from: History of Domestication of Cows and Yak,. Thought Co.com; What country introduced Cattle to the U. S. Kat Walden; Cows and Climate Change, Amy Quinton; History of the Dairy Industry, Karyn Moyer; A Glimpse into Beef Cattle History, Madeline McCurry-Schmidt.

 

5 Historical Bond between Donkey, Mule and Man

Introduction

Horses, Donkeys, Mules, are usually lumped together, whenever horses have anything written about them. It just seemed to me that Horses deserved top billing. And perhaps Donkeys needed a little more than a passing mention.

All too often Donkeys are the butt of jokes, and the receiver of painful roping and throwing tricks at Rodeo’s. They are more often known as beasts of burden. Donkeys, as well as Mules, are necessary creatures in mountains and wastelands for carrying packs and supplies, where more modern modes of transportation are unable to go.

In the 19th century Gold Rush years, prospectors in California and surrounding areas used donkeys and mules as their beasts of burden. When the gold frenzy slowed and mines were abandoned, so were many donkeys. Some escaped, most were abandoned as the miners left their digging to find other ways of making a living.

History of the Donkey

Donkeys were domesticated and later turned wild in the western United States. In some areas of the West, donkeys are referred to as Burros. When the Spanish settled in Mexico and Southwest U.S. they introduced Burros as pack animals.

Burros and Donkeys are the same species. “Burro” is Spanish for Donkey. Burros are slightly smaller than the American Donkey. Both species are found in the western States of Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, Texas, and Nevada.

The donkey has been around since 4000 B.C. and originated from the African Wild Ass. They are a member of the Horse Family Equidae. The donkey (Equus, asinus) stands about 40 inches at the shoulder. It has been beast of burden from the beginning of its existence and its relationship to man.

The Donkey can be characterized as patient, slow and sure-footed. All of these attributes are exceptional for balancing and carrying heavy bulky loads over rocky countryside. Unfortunately, man often considers the Donkey as stubborn and stupid, and mistreats him because he is funny looking and funny sounding.

Donkey, the well digger

People who have visited Desert places understand very quickly how important water is for continued life. Animals certainly know this too, especially animals who live in our southwestern states.

Donkeys and horses who live in desert climates know they need water and take action by digging wells. Yes, digging wells. National Geographic has reported on well digging activity by these animals. In doing this they not only supply water for themselves, but they create oases for other wildlife and plant life in the area.

Some of these wells can be up to 6 feet in depth. They use their front hooves to shovel sand up and backwards while the back hooves push the sand back from the hole.

This is defined as “ecosystem engineering; a phenomenon where wildlife alter their environment”. The horses and donkeys are just looking for water, but they are building a whole environment, giving life to other animals and plants.

Badgers, Black Bears, mule deer and big horn sheep and all kinds of birds inhabit the oases that support plant life, willows and cottonwoods. In the North American Sonora Desert and Mohave Desert, something like 57 species come to drink at these wells.

Well-digging by horses and Donkeys not only occurs in the U.S. but has been observed in Queensland, Australia, southern Australia, in the Gobi desert, and Sable Island, Canada.

The above story may be one good reason for the Bureau of Land Management to re-evaluate the management of the horses, donkey and burro in the Southwest. The BLM manages the wild population of about 90,000 of these animals and the federal government holds another 50,000 in corrals throughout the west at great expense as a way to curb wild populations.

Land Management Poster

Even though they may have been introduced into the environment and are not a naturally wild species of our deserts, they perform a vital ecological function. There is a lot of room in our great American Southwest, why are we so insistent on reducing their numbers when they provide a necessary ecological function?

Anecdotal Stories of Donkeys

Much of our information about donkeys comes from anecdotal bits and pieces: donkeys are funny looking, they make weird sounds called braying, they are stubborn, they won’t move until they are ready to move, they are stupid. But none of those descriptions are based on fact only.

There is an organization in Texas called Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, and as their title indicates, they rescue Donkeys from abusive owners, and neglect, abandonment and those being sold to slaughter for their meat and hides. Donkeys are known to be loyal to their owners, even owners who mistreat them.

Donkeys are not aggressive, but are rather gentle. With these characteristics, Donkeys actually make good pets. It seems that families with children can adopt one and know that their children can ride a donkey safely. Peaceful Valley holds adoption centers and education classes for those who are looking for a pet a little out of the ordinary.

A Long, long time ago, centuries before buses, cars, trains were in existence, people rode donkeys and mules. Move backward to Biblical times, to find stories about men riding donkeys. This account is recorded in the Old Testament Book of Numbers, Chapter 22. It’s the story of Balaam, a diviner, who has been called by Balak, King of the country of Moab, to come and put a curse on a new group of people who have settled in the country next to Moab.

Balaam decides to go, and saddles up his donkey and starts out on his journey. A little while into his trip, the Donkey veers off the road into a field, and will go no further. Balaam is angry with her and beats her for changing course. Everybody gets back on the road and continues on.

A little way down the road and the Donkey veers off the road again, and again Balaam beats his Donkey to get her back on the road. For a third time, the donkey stops and this time lays down in the road and Balaam is dumped off the donkey.

He is so angry he threatens to kill her. Now, miracle of miracles, this donkey speaks and she asks Balaam, “Am I not your own Donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you” ? “No” Balaam answered.

Then Balaam sees an angel of the Lord with sword drawn, ready to kill him except for the donkey’s intervention. Other mentions of a Donkey and her colt occur in the New Testament of the bible and refer to Jesus riding on the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem.

Scriptures also indicate that Mary, the mother of Jesus, rode a donkey to Bethlehem.

Donkey

During the Gold Rush there were stories told that Donkeys saved the lives of their owners by shoving them out of the way of falling rock. Sometimes the Donkey sacrificed his life to save his master.

Conclusion

Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley, sums up his attitude toward Donkeys: “The sad truth is that even though donkeys are intelligent, curious, and friendly creatures, they are the most abused. —these innocent animals are roped for fun, rounded up by our government and shipped to slaughter—and abused on a daily basis….. These are the same creatures that helped build America and faithfully served humans in farming, transport and even Warfare.

He continues: “they love attention, being touched, petted and will do anything for a treat. They are just like big dogs.

One other reason that Donkeys are shipped off to slaughter is that their hides contain a gelatin: ejiao or(e-gee-ow). The gelatin is made by boiling the hides of slaughtered Donkeys. It is used in a variety of products -facial creams, powders, and snacks. The largest percentage of these products are sold in China, but many can be found on Amazon and eBay.

 

Mules

Mules are the favored pack animal in the United States. I went to the American Mule Museum, via google, for information on this cross between a horse and donkey. Mules must have bred naturally in the wild where the wild Ass and the horse occupied the same territory.

Mule

Mules have been bred deliberately by man since ancient times. People in parts of Turkey were the first to breed mules. Mules were in Egypt before 3000 B. C. Mules have been in the Holy Land since 1040 B.C. The mule is the favored pack animal in most countries and the U.S. The Mule was also the favored “Royal Beast” or the favored riding animal of the Princes in ancient times. King David of the Hebrews rode Mules.

A Mule is a cross between a male Donkey and a female horse. These Mules are usually sterile, that is, they cannot breed more mules. The horse and the donkey have a different number of chromosomes. Less common is a male horse crossed with a female donkey. In that case the animal is called a Hinny.

In any case, they are large, mild-mannered, sure-footed animals that can carry much larger loads than can donkeys.

Information from Google, Wikipedia, National Geographic Magazine, American Mule Museum, The Little Book of Donkeys,  Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue,  the Bible. Pictures from Pixabay.

I’m Barb Nelson and author of this post on donkeys and Mules. I receive nothing from the above mentioned organizations except general information used in this post.

I would love to hear from my readers. If you enjoyed reading about these animals, write me a comment.

4. The bond between horse and man

 

 

 

EARLY USE

Belgian-for pulling wagons, carts 

At first, man considered the horse simply as a source of food and for hides. But soon man decided that the horse was more valuable as a hauler of early wheeled carts. The horse was one of the most important discoveries for early human societies.

Horses were used to pull wheeled vehicles, chariots, carts, and wagons. From 2000 B. C. onward, they were increasingly used for riding. The bond between horse and man began early and has remained strong through the centuries. Horses were used in war, in hunting and as a means of transport. The average age of the horse is between 25 and 30 years.

The oldest horse known to man was a barge horse named Billy. Billy was born in 1760 in England and lived until 1822, which made him 62 years of age.

Ancestry

Some 55 to 42 million years ago, the horse ancestors were dog-like creatures. Over time, they grew in size and adapted from a damp, forested habitat to a prairie habitat.

Early horse ancestors were specialized for the tropical forests. But as the land changed, the horse changed to life on drier land. Fossils show that the foot and leg anatomy adapted to a grazing habitat and an ability to flee from predators.

The horse belongs to the Order Perissodactyla (odd-toed Ungulates). All horses share hoofed feet and an odd number of toes on each foot. The horse’s lineage shows several adaptations, which eventually reduced the horse to one Genus, Equus.

wild horses

Around 3000 B.C. people began to tame horses and to domesticate them for carrying and pulling the carts and wagons man had invented for transport.

Scientists first believed that the horse was native to Europe. In reality, the horse’s ancestors came over from the Americas by way of the Bering Bridge over a million years ago. In the 1500s, Horses came back to America by way of Florida and Mexico. Christopher Columbus brought horses from Spain to the west Indies, and Spanish Conquistadors brought horses to Mexico.

The consensus is that the horses that remained in North America eventually became extinct and their ancestors were brought back by colonists.

BREEDS

There are too many breeds to mention here. I’m going to mention a few that are fairly popular with horse people.

Hand: is a unit of measure equal to 4 inches.

American Mustang–is a muscular, athletic horse– well liked by American riders.

American Quarter Horse--stands 14.3 – 16 hands–is a talented, dependable horse with a muscular neck and deep chest. Most are chestnut color.

American Quarter horse

 

Missouri Fox Trotter–developed in the Ozarks by settlers as a reliable riding horse. Stands 14-16 hands. This horse is a favorite of Forest Rangers. The horse has a tolerance for human company.

Agriculture, work breeds

Belgian Breed-is a heavy muscular horse–carriage pullers, good-natured creatures, stand 16-18 hands.

Clydesdale– from Scotland originally. A good-natured horse with the signature white feathered feet. Stands 16.2- 18 hands.

Percheron– stands 16-18 hands. Good on performance as well as pulling.

Racing Breed

Thoroughbred race horse

Thoroughbred– stands 15-17 hands. This horse was bred for racing and special events, jumping and competitions. The Horse is described as a long, lean, racing machine. Originally born in England.

Shetland Pony -stands under 11.2 hands. This is an especially good pony for children to learn to ride. These ponies are good family companions.

Therapy Horses

Therapy Horse

The horse is the most popularly used animal in therapy today. Horses respond immediately to the rider’s action or behavior. Horses also mirror the rider’s emotions. They react like human beings in their social and responsive behavior.

Professionals who work with people who have psychological problems prefer using horses in therapy sessions because of the natural, close bond between horses and humans.

You might say that a horse can read his human counterpart “like a book.” It’s easy for patients to establish a connection, or a bond, with his horse. The therapeutic value of horses is tremendous. Just being with a horse is therapy.

Horse Therapy isn’t about riding–it’s about just being with the horse. A horse can immediately pick up the emotional state of his human partner.

Working with horses can help people heal from a variety of psychological issues. People learn how to identify emotions and how to handle them.

Horse Therapy can be helpful for those who are recovering from substance abuse, trauma, depression, and a number of other problems.

Horses need a lot of care, and taking care of a horse can actually teach a person to develop a solid work ethic.

Horse Racing Industry

Horse racing is a performance sport involving horses ridden by jockeys over a set distance for competition.

Most ancient of all sports. Basic premise: to identify which of several horses is the fastest over the set course.

Industry Statistics-by Brandon Gaille

1. Horse racing is responsible for over 450,000 jobs.

2. Pays out over $1.9 billion in taxes every year to all levels of Government.

3. Contributes more than $100 Billion worth of spending to every level of the economy

4. The average horse owner owns 4 horses There are 9.2 million horses living in the U.S.

Only 10% are actually racing.

5. Seven million Americans are involved in the industry. 2 million are horse owners- a third of those make 75 K a year.

6. Over 16,000 horses are for sale.

Most horse owners take good care of their horses, train them well and provide for them in every way.

Trivia note: In 1973, at the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat won the largest payout ever at $103 million.

The downside of the Horse Racing Industry

A report from a writer for the New York Daily News, states that a racehorse is a genetic mistake- “it runs too fast, its frame is too large and its legs are far too small.”

Racehorses are victims of a multi-billion dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries and race fixing. Many horses’ careers, and lives, end on the track or in slaughterhouses because they have been medicated to keep them running, too many times, too fast.”

In a PETA report: Most racehorses are shipped from place to place without ever having a chance to bond with anyone human being or to consider any one place as home. Remember, one reason horses are so good as therapy animals is because they mirror a human’s necessity for an emotional connection with place and creature.

Horses run too many races in a year, PETA reports. They should not run every week without rest and time out.

Horses are medicated for soreness and injury, so they can continue to run race after race. A lot of people invest in horses as if they were stocks without considering that they are investing in a live, feeling animal.

Horses often become addicted to the drugs they are fed before every race. Even their Vets give them drugs to keep them running faster and faster. Trainers pump horses full of illegal drugs to keep them running.

One Colorado study found that out of 1,348 horses sent to slaughter houses, 58 were known to be former racehorses. You always hear the story that a horse that has just won a big race will be retired now and allowed to live out his life in a lovely pasture as a reward for winning his owner a big pile of money.

The reality is that it is very expensive to keep a horse that isn’t bringing in a lot of money. Even stud services won’t pay the bills.

Thousands of horses are sent to slaughterhouses in Canada, Mexico and Japan every year.

There are no slaughterhouses in the United States yet, but congress has approved funding for inspections should any try to open. That would pave the way for horse slaughter in the U.S.

If you feel that drugging should be banned for horses nationwide, there is legislation and you can contact your legislator and ask him or her to co-sponsor the: Horse racing Integrity Act.

Update on Horse Racing Integrity Act:

 In response to a reader’s question on the above legislation: Horse Racing integrity Act was signed into law on December 28, 2020 focuses on ensuring the integrity of Thoroughbred horse racing and on the safety of Thoroughbred race horses and jockeys by requiring national uniform standards that include anti-doping and medication  control and racetrack safety programs. ( There are already lawsuits against this being filed, so it isn’t over yet.)

The cost to care for a horse

Still want to own a horse? Well, Cow Girl magazine.com has calculated the cost to keep a horse, once you get past the upfront cost of just buying the horse. All these numbers are dollars, even if there isn’t a dollar sign in front:

Upfront cost:

Horse: 800 – 4000

  1. Pre purchase Vet Exam 25 -500
  2. Tack: 400 – 1500
  3. Stable Supplies: 50- 100

Monthly:

  1. Self Boarding: 250 – 500
  2. Field Boarding: 100 -200
  3. Farrier (6 to 8 weeks) 25- 100
  4. dewormer: 15

Self-care at home

  1. Hay 40 – 200
  2. grain 15 – 30 a bag
  3. Bedding 5 -12 a bag
  4. Fencing 500+
  5. Shelter 1200+

Annual:

  1. Vaccines; 50 – 100
  2. Emergency Vet: 250+
  3. Teeth Floating: up to150

There is a lot more you could buy: Apparel, truck, trailer, first-aid kit, rubber stall mats,—-

Owning a horse can cost roughly from 9800 to 27,000 a year.

BLM Roundups of wild Mustang

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in charge of management of Public Lands for the use of Ranchers, mining interests, and other interests as well as management of wild herds of horses and Burros.

Land Management Poster

The law declares wild horses and burros to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the west”— BLM and the Forest Service are responsible for managing and protecting herds which were found roaming areas of the west in 1971.

Basically, the BLM rounds up wild horses and burros and puts them up for adoption to the public. Sounds good doesn’t it? A lot of people in the west who have observed these roundups, say otherwise.

In reality, the yearly roundup results in mass incarceration of approximately 150,000 wild horses stockpiled in long term holding facilities across the country with no place to go. However, they continue these roundups every spring, and as more are put in captivity, the pressure to sell them for slaughter builds.

Helicopter Roundup

People in the western states continue to complain that the BLM’s method of roundup leads to too many deaths. The BLM uses loud helicopters and land vehicles, which terrorizes the horses and causes stampedes that leave many of the animals severely wounded or dead.

BLM schedules these roundups in early spring when mares are birthing or foals have just recently been born and cannot keep up with a stampeding herd. There are also complaints that the BLM doesn’t report the true number of deaths from the roundups.

The Wild Horse Education.org group is “devoted to protecting America’s wild horses from abuse and slaughter, and to preserve our herds and land they stand on for future generations.” For more information, visit their website.

Conclusion

Horses create intense feelings in many Americans who see them as icons of our country’s history. Horses were a large part of this country’s early development. Many of them died in battle right along with their owners. Grown men broke down in tears when they had to put down their loyal friend.

Mustangs Run Free

The bond between horse and man is probably more apparent than in any other animal/human connection. Their ability to sense our emotions and respond to our feelings makes them, at least psychologically, more closely bonded to us than other animals might be.

Information for this article came from: World Atlas.com; Equine Heritage Institute; Wikipedia; Bel Rea Institute of Animal Technology; Pet MD; Psychology Today; PETA, The Horseracing Industry: Drugs, Deception, Death; Cow Girl Magazine.com; Bureau of Land Management; Wild Horse Education.org.

I’m Barbara Nelson. I hope you enjoyed this article. I learned a lot as I researched and wrote this. I would like to hear from my readers. Let me know what you think.

 

3. Is there a bond between felines and humans?

Intro

Cats at play

It seems logical that all mammals would have a certain bond that holds them together because of certain similarities. In the scientific world, Man is included in the animal kingdom in the class Mammalia.

We have the same attributes that other mammals have; that is, we bear young alive, and we produce milk for them. Continue reading “3. Is there a bond between felines and humans?”