April 06, 2009
About the Breed: Maltese Donkey
The Maltese donkey, known as Hmar Malti in its native land, is a unique breed of donkeys developed on the island of Malta, located off the coast of Sicily. This breed most likely traces back to Arabian origins.
The Maltese donkey has a short, glossy coat, brown, black, or dark bay in color with a white muzzle. The jacks are typically around 150cm (14.2hh), and jennets around 143cm (14hh) tall.
This breed tends to have a very fiery disposition, thus they can sometimes be hard to handle. They are an agile donkey, and are also noted for their well shaped head and ears.
Historically the Maltese donkeys were used for transport, draft work, meat, and producing mules in their native land.
Maltese donkey jacks were some of the earliest donkeys imported to the United States, and were used early on in the development of the American Mammoth Jackstock breed. They are credited with contributing vigor to this new breed.
In November of 1786, the Marquis de Lafayette of France sent General George Washington (not yet president) a shipment including three Maltese donkeys, at least one of which was a jack. It is said that this jack became an excellent sire of mules.
Maltese donkeys were also imported to Australia in the mid 1800s.
Today this breed has all but vanished. In the 2007/2008 report from the Monitoring Institute for Rare Breeds and Seeds in Europe, it was documented that there are only about 50 Maltese donkeys left today. It was also noted that there is a conservation program in progress to preserve this breed.
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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at April 6, 2009 06:56 AM