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August 22, 2006

McLean to conduct Donkey and Mule Research

Michigan State University, Animal Science Department, East Lansing, MI

For the past 27 years, Amy K. McLean, the daughter of Ray and Jessica McLean of Sowhatchet Mule Farm, Inc., located in Madison, GA, has been involved with the mule and donkey industry. You may recognize her name or face from the show ring or possibly from the many informational articles she has supplied the mule and donkey industry with for years. Her love for mules and donkeys has impacted her life since she was 6 months old and her father introduced her to the next door neighbor’s guard donkey, PJ and she often claims that she was imprinted at birth by Longears.

She has been the first to do many things with mules such as the first person to show mules in the Georgia State 4-H Horse Show, as well as competed and qualified 3 mules for the Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships, the first female and youth to show a Walking Mule 15 years ago at the Great Celebration Mule and Donkey Show in Shelbyville, TN, as well as the first female to win the World Championship Gaited Mule High Point with Las Vegas Lights in 1997 as well as repeating this accomplishment in 2000 and in 2003 with Viva Las Vegas. She has also won many awards showing all around mules in the amateur division all across the country including winning the Reserve World Championship All Around Amateur with W.C. He’s a Playboy the first year they offered this award (2004) at Bishop Mule Days in Bishop, CA. In addition to competing at mule shows, she enjoys competing at open horse shows with the mules and exposing other people outside the industry to mules in a positive light. She has also visited many equine events including educational seminars with her mules as ambassadors for the industry.

Outside of the show ring Amy attended the University of Georgia in Athens, GA where she completed her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with an Equine Emphasis and a second major in Dairy Science along with a minor in Agribusiness. She went on to complete her Masters of Science at the University of Georgia, in Animal and Dairy Science with the emphasis of Reproduction Physiology and all her major course work focused on monogastric nutrition. Thanks to her involvement in the mule industry she was able to pay for all six years of her education through scholarships won in 4-H and FFA where mules were used as the topic of many speeches and demonstrations. She strongly encourages youth to continue to show throughout their high school and college years!

McLean was recently accepted to a PhD program at Michigan State University, where she gave a mule and donkey seminar in May, and she plans to concentrate her efforts and research on donkey and mule studies. She has received a United States Department of Agriculture Fellowship and hopes to supply the industry with the much needed research. Some areas of focus will include but not be limited to nutrition, exercise physiology as well as the possibility of looking into donkey lactation studies. These studies will be conducted here in the states as well as internationally to help improve the lives of many donkeys and mules who are still used as “beast of burdens.” She plans to continue to write informative articles for the mule and donkey publications as well as update the industry on her latest research.

Unfortunately, few donkey and mule studies have been conducted in the United States with the exception to several dedicated mule and donkey enthusiasts such as the infamous Dr. Tex Taylor, his daughter Ethel and his colleagues at Texas A&M University as well as by Dr. Robert Miller. However a few private individuals such as Mr.
Don Jacklin have supported several mule research projects such as the recent cloned mule project at the University of Idaho, and more recent a project by Colorado State University where a horse embryo was transferred and placed into a mare mule who later gave birth, there has been a lack of interest among university systems to conduct mule and donkey research. Hopefully, in the next few years more research will be done and provided to the industry and those who have experience in research such as Dr. Taylor and Dr. Miller as well as other veterinarians and professors internationally will be involved with Amy’s projects and studies. If you would like to contact Amy with further questions or suggestions you can reach her via email at amule@bellsouth.net or at 706-296-8743.

Posted by Guest Contributor at August 22, 2006 08:03 PM


I am thinking of breeding a manmouth donkey for the purpose of drinking the milk. Do you know how I should go about this to obtain milk year round? Thanks, John

Posted by: john burton at November 15, 2006 08:56 PM

You don't need a mammoth donkey to get milk year round.You can,of course, but standard donkeys are less expensive.Get two donkeys and breed them about 6 months apart.A jennet gives good milk for about a year after a foal is born.I love donkey milk and I am a production specialist.I even have flown to France 4 times to visit Asinerie d'Embazac.Did you ever get your milking jennets? A good milking standard jennet gives as much milk as a mammoth jennet.

Posted by: Robert Jonasson at May 16, 2009 10:51 PM