The effect of Maasai cultural practices on the welfare of domestic animals: a case of Kajiado central district, Kenya
The purpose of this study was to investigate how Maasai cultural practices have a bearing on animal welfare. The objectives of the study were; to establish the effect of keeping large number of animals on the welfare of animals; to determine the effect of blood extraction on livestock; to establish the effect of traditional castration methods on the welfare of animals; to establish the effect of traditional animal restraining methods on the welfare of animals and to investigate the effect of animal identification methods on the welfare of animals. The descriptive survey research design was employed and data was collected by means of questionnaires administered to a sample of 64 respondents (households) drawn from a population of 625 livestock households using simple sampling. Data was analysed by use of qualitative and quantitative methods. The findings revealed that the residents had a high attachment to their livestock with a respondent owning an average of 28 heads of cattle and a flock of 114 goats/sheep while an average family owned 86 cows and 225 goat/sheep. This posed some difficulties as expressed by 54 (84.4%) of respondents among them foliage and water. There was a strong correlation of 0.932 between largest number of animal ownership and the loss through drought. The cultural practice of extracting blood from live animals was being exercised by 22 (34.4%) of the respondents. Arrow and spear were the tools used to pierce the jugular vein of the cow to get blood to use as food and for circumcision and child birth ceremonies. The practise was reported as painful by 60 (93.8%) of respondents. Traditional castration of animals was being exercised by all 64 (100%) respondents. The practice carried by men used burdizzo, rubber ring and open cut to castrate cow, goats/sheep and donkeys for behaviour control, fattening and quality bleeding control. These method were found to be painful a fact agreed by 58 (90.6%) of respondents. 63 (98.4%) of the respondents employed traditional animal restrains method of nose peg, nose ring and ear pegs. The restraining methods were said to be painful to animals by 49 (76.6%) respondents for nose ring, 40 (62.5%) for nose peg and 38 (59.4%) for ear peg in addition to being injurious to animals. All the 64 (100%) respondents also employed the tradition animal identification methods of branding, ear notching or skin lacerations .Branding was anonymously agreed to be painful to animals, ear notching by 63 (98.4%) and skin laceration by 55 (85.9%) of respondents. The study concluded that all the five cultural practices identified had an effect on animal welfare. There is therefore need to replace these traditional practice with more modern animal friendly practices. Need for making affordable services like veterinary available will go ahead in improving welfare of animals without comprising the needs of animal owners.