Dairy Donkeys in Italy

Did you know the closest thing in composition to human's milk is donkey milk? The use of donkey milk is quite common in many central and South American countries and it has been used for hundreds of years in east and west Africa for medicinal purposes. 


Donkeys milk is primarily used today throughout Europe for infants that are allergic to cows milk protein. the milk is also used to make cosmetic products that are supposed to have many anti aging factors. Ice cream and liquor is also made from the milk. 

The photos are from various dairies I visited with colleagues and students from the vet school at the University of Torino. We were collecting data associated with the overall welfare of donkeys used for milk purposes in order to help develop guidelines for producers. The data gathered can also be used for donkey owners around the world in terms donkey nutrition, body condition scoring and neck crest scores, blood chemistry profiles, external and internal parasite control in relationship to the over all well being of the donkey. In addition, many breeds of donkeys are being preserved now that they have a purpose. 



Milking a purebred Ragusana, a true dairy breed of donkeys from Sicily. 


Donkey milk ice cream! Very delicious!!


Beautiful herd of Pyrennes donkeys imported from France.


Most donkeys are kept in a large barn with their foals. 

Ragusana donkeys are considered to be the Holestein of dairy donkeys. These donkeys were purchased directly from Sicily and had a 24 hour boat trip and an additionaln8 hour truck trip to their new home in the Alps


Research team collecting data and milk on a hillside in Langhe, Italy. 


The Alps are close by to many of the dairies.


Research team, Dr Emanuela Valle, DVM, Phd, Dr Amy McLean, PhD, Dr Laura Callavaria, and vet students: Francesca  and Fredericka with the purebred Prynesse donkey herd. 

AMA member Micah Shumate checking out Teptu, a pet donkey in Italy

This region of Italy is home to the dual purpose and double muscled cattle known as Pedmontese. 

More pictures of the Pyrennes donkeys 

Ragusana herd.