Keeping *dairy donkeys* wasn’t in the master plan for our farm. Its not something I wanted to do but I believe through a series of crazy events I was lead to it. And I have been greatly blessed by it.
I came across donkey milk health information while I was researching things to do with the new donkey I had bought to be a poultry guardian. There’s riding (just got to say here I did not enjoy riding a donkey!) and packing, even driving a wagon! Of course they can be great livestock guardians. Please be aware a lone donkey is not a good option as a guard. You really need two! I’ve been very pleased with mine as guardians and they produce a lot of manure for the garden. If you have very large gardens you know there is never enough fertilizer!
And using a donkey for milking isn’t anything new! Historically its been used to cure multiple ills and considered the best thing for orphaned and sickly newborns. Its also a valuable cosmetic ingredient in many countries and complements the farm to face skin care line I started 6 years ago. Now called Latte d’Asina click the link to find out more about and purchase my farm to face product line!
Its healed a lot of my digestive issues and helped my food allergies. I was very skeptical but it really changed my life! I still needed to follow an GAPS type diet to get more permanent results but my stomach pain disappeared immediately. After the nutrition drops off around 7 months lactation we then use it to make those amazing beauty products its so well known for and continue milking until around 8 months lactation. Then its time to dry up the jennet and let her get in the best condition possible for the new foal she’ll be bred back to have. Its also a fantastic skin care ingredient and complements the farm to face skin care line I started 6 years ago.
There are actual donkey dairies in Europe , Asia and Africa!
Donkeys aren’t efficient at milk production.That is why most of us have never heard of consuming donkey milk or even milking them at all. Their feed to milk conversion is not as efficient as other dairy animals. Since they are an equine animal they take a very long time to foal and management is more difficult then with other dairy animals. But with our philosophy of each animal having multiple purposes on our farm they do fit in here very well. I get along with their quirky personalities and they have provided a healing need for my digestive system and food allergies with their milk. So if you don’t have a health need for the milk they may not be the best choice. Goats are much more efficient at milking and have many uses themselves, but they just aren’t for us. And Donkeys aren’t for everyone but I sure do love them!
You can find several posts on the journey to milking donkeys on our farm blog.
You do need to consider space also. Donkeys can be large animals or small and the bigger they are the more space they need and the more they eat! Have a good hay source for winter! and plenty of non- rich pasture for summer and they are happy and healthy! Keeping a pair of non breeding jennets or geldings as guardians is much less expensive than keeping up breeding trios and Feeding up pregnant jennets and foals. Also there is the management of the intact jack , which can be dangerous at times. Some jacks need there own separate areas also and can’t be run with jennets all year.
I mention above they produce lots of manure , which is great for the garden. It also means alot of extra work shoveling that manure! So be aware of the extra time you’ll need for clean up. Especially if they are in a small area. Mine have a four acre pasture to roam, yet they still choose to do most of their bathroom breaks in a small pasture they have access too. It gets very messy!
There are many uses for donkey milk if you choose to use donkeys for your milk needs. Unfortunately their milk doesn’t make a lot of cheese. I’ve read it Just makes one pound of cheese for 5 quarts of milk! But there’s donkey milk ice cream and fudge! I made some great donkey milk truffles too. Wonderful stuff! I’ll be posting recipes on my blog soon I hope!
If you have any questions about milking donkeys or using donkeys on your farm you can visit my new site mydonkeymilk.com for more in depth information about milking donkeys, donkeys as livestock guardians and more!