« Check out the Photos! | Main | Oregon Mule & Donkey Show »

June 11, 2009

Donkeys Milk

Have you ever thought of using donkeys milk in your diet instead of cow or goats milk? You may not have seen it in your local grocery store yet, but the use of donkeys milk in the home is on the rise around the world.

While it may not be readily available in the US yet, many new donkey milk farms have sprung up in France, Belgium and Italy over to past few years, and donkeys milk sells for quite a bit in those countries.

Asinerie du Pays des Collines - Belgium

Asinerie d'Embazac - France

The donkeys at these farms are milked every day, and unlike dairy cows, the mothers are still allowed to raise their babies. Moms and babies live together like in any other donkey herd. When the babies are two or three months old, the farms start seperating them from the moms for a couple hours each day. They are still within sight of each other, just in a seperate pasture. While seperated, the jennet's udder fills with milk, then after a couple hours, she is milked out, then returned to her baby for the rest of the day.

The milk that these farms collect is used in the production of soaps and skin care products, candies, as well as for raw consumption. I have read that the nutritional make up of donkeys milk is very similar to that of human breast milk, and they are finding that infants who are allergic to cows milk based formula do quite well on donkeys milk.

Robert Jonasson has been studying donkey milk production and learning from the donkey milk farms in Europe. He is currently working to educate people in the USA about the value and uses of donkeys milk. He shared this with me recently:

Most donkey milk research is going on in Italy. There is a symposium in July on donkey's milk in Bianello Castle, Montebucco, Italy, in connection with the second annual Asinodays Celebration. One of the languages is English, so Americans can go and hear what the researchers have to say. (Their main website is in Italian, but you can view it in English by selecting EN in the language drop-down box in the right side near the top of the screen.)

For now all donkey milk research and field trials are taking place in Europe. I want to change that and get initial trials of donkey milk under way here in the US as well.

We do have a small historical usage here in America as shown in this picture I found.

Grandpa Wilbur milking a donkey back in 1953

I am very interested in instructing ranchers about donkey milk production and I will work with any interested persons. Try donkeys milk yourself. Then go on to promote and offer donkey milk samples to other people.

I have several future projects planned, including extensive photography and videography of the Belgian donkey milk farms and French farms so that I can do presentations at donkey & mule events around the country.

For now, I'd love to find out, have you tasted donkeys milk? And if so, are you using a milk jennet for you or your family?

Here is a photo that Robert sent of Heidi McCarty milking a jennet in January 2008. This jennet gave over 1 quart of milk.


So let us know, have you tried donkeys milk? What did you think of it? Do you want to learn more about how to start your own donkey milk farm?

Robert is also starting to hold demos of donkey milking and share his knowledge about donkey milk farms. He attended the Minnesota Horse Expo in April, and exposed donkeys milk there for only the second time in U.S. history! Thank You to Gary Wagenaar for providing a lactating jennet, Maggie, for the demo. Robert gave talks on donkeys milk at stallside and handed out information about its uses. Robert also plans to attend the Shelbyville show this year, and hopes to teach more people about donkeys milk while he is there.

Kristie Jorgensen

Have an idea you'd like to see discussed in a future article?
Send an e-mail to us by clicking here and let us know what's on your mind.

Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at June 11, 2009 06:24 PM


I am very interested in the milking of donkeys, I have two lactating minis right now. I make my own lotions and my husband & I own a 300 head dairy farm. He always said if I could make more on donkey milk we would sell the cows and fill the barn with donkeys.

Posted by: Lucy at June 23, 2009 08:12 AM

i have tried donkey milk and i love it! i would drink that instead of cow's milk but my husband thinks i'm wierd. and my jenny died last year so i only have her gelded son now. hard to milk a gelding. :) my concern with starting a donkey mik farm is what to do with the foals. otherwise i would jump at the chance.

Posted by: savannah meyer at July 3, 2009 04:42 PM

I just wanted to say I had the pleasure of a ph call from Robert Jonasson this eve.Guess what we talked about.Donkey Milk...I told him I had already thought of trying donkey milk just to see if I liked it as good as Nubian goat milk.We chatted a while about what else" Donkeys.I have a jenny in milk right now and plan on stealing some to try it for myself.I enjoyed talking donkeys.So my take on donkey milk is go give it a try.
Barb Hilton

Posted by: Barb Hilton at July 17, 2009 09:58 PM