Draught and transport animals in the five republics of Central America

Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala very in size, in human population numbers and in human population densities. Similarly they vary in the numbers of domestic animals. Cattle are by far the most important species that produce meat and milk. Equines, especially horses are important as transport animals. The contribution of livestock and their major edible products to the national economies of all countries remains considerable in the range of 11 to 15 per cent. No data are available on the value added to the economy by animals through providing energy for crop production and transport of goods and people and it appears that this contribution is not included in any official accounting system. Research on improving the output and contribution of work oxen to agriculture and the economy as a whole has been limited and spasmodic. Most purported research on equines has been related to welfare considerations including improved health and better systems of foot care and harnessing. A small number of network operations support the use of oxen mainly for energy (draught power) supply. Many international charitable foundations provide finance and expertise for improving the welfare of horses (as well as donkeys and mules) but these are generally small scale and of limited temporal duration. Oxen are use mainly to provide on-farm draught power but also are important in rural transport operations. Horses supply services in both suburban and urban areas as riding animals, in carriage work and to a more limited extent in providing other power applications. Key words: work oxen, horses, animal welfare, animal nutrition, equine diseases.
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