Modern Use of Donkeys

Document Type : Review Article


Department of Animal Production, University of Bari, 70126, Bari, Italy


In the early 90’s, donkeys were in danger of extinction as species. In Italy, there were counted few heads of many breeds but, unfortunately, others had already been extinct. With the donkey in danger, there was a risk of disappearance of a part of ecosystem, a biodiversity particularly significant as it represents humans’ history. All countries around the Mediterranean sea, countries of southern Europe from Spain to Greece and of north Africa from Turkey to Morocco, have seen the production and the progress of agricultural world related to the presence of equines. Today, in many parts of Italy, donkey is rediscovered for the potentiality and adaptability in different environments that can still have. The presence of donkey becomes once again useful inside farms, first of all, because of its milk production, milk that is similar to that of woman’s breast milk and, also, for the use of this milk in the industry of cosmetics. Moreover, the use of meat produced by these animals is appreciated by today’s consumers for its high chemico-nutritional quality which, nowadays, is used in many traditional recipes. Last but not least, we must consider the ultimate utility of this animal for therapeutically purposes such as its use in onotherapy, method that is frequently being used for people who have disabilities and discomforts with results that can be noticed quickly and can be documented. This work is just a descriptive picture of the Italian breeding reality with many possible suggestions for those countries where the donkey is still a solitary inhabitant of the countryside.


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