Root & Branch
International Draft Animal Conference
Recently, the two-day international draft animal conference "Draft Animals in the Past, Present and Future" was organized by the UNSESCO World Heritage Site Kloster Lorsch in Germany. To meet virtually with people from all over the world who are committed to a cause similar to ours was extremely inspiring.
As part of the meeting, an archive was created to capture examples of work with draft animals in the 21st century as short video clips. In addition to many interesting contributions - such as the use of donkeys in subsistence agriculture in Burkina Faso or horses on French vineyards - our "Project Draft Cattle" was also documented. It is presented by project manager Joana Ryser, Léon Bickel, head of FastRunner programs, and our cattle Elly and Milou.
During the conference, different aspects from the world of working animals were highlighted and discussed: Their historical importance for mankind, for example for the transport of heavy goods, the current spread of draft animals in different areas of Africa, Europe and the USA, innovative further developments of harnessing methods for the welfare of the animals up to the contribution that draft animals make as a renewable energy source to sustainable agriculture.
The conference also highlighted how the use of working animals contributes to various development goals formulated by the UN: in poorer regions, the use of draft animals can reduce poverty, contribute to food security, gender equality and the right to education - for example, when animals take on heavy work such as water transport, which in many areas of Africa literally rests on the shoulders of women and children.
There was agreement at the conference that a shift in thinking is needed in society and in politics. The use of draft animals is considered retrograde in many places. If working with draft animals is once again more appreciated, framework conditions can be created that promote their use.