Breed

The Poitou donkey - Baudet du Poitou (in French) is an endangered breed of large donkeys - named after the region of Poitou-Charentes (main town - Poitiers) in the West of France. The breed has been known of since the 11th century, but probably came into existence earlier. They were initially quite common in all of Southwest France, but today only few pure-breeds remain.

The studs reach a height of between 1400 and 1500mm (roughly between 14 and 16 hands), the mares between 1350 and 1450mm (around 13 to 14.5 hands).

The Poitou donkey appears compact and frequently has a long, usually dark-brown shaggy coat. The muzzle, the edges of its eyes and belly are off-white with a reddish tinge at the point of transition to the dark-brown coat, which can sometimes also have a bright brown tone. These donkeys were once bred mainly for farm work. Cross-breeding with Poitevin donkeys then made it possible for them to be utilized for breeding unusually large mules - for military purposes, amongst other things.

In 1977, the species’ worldwide population amounted to just 44 animals. Due to the introduction of a breeding programme run by the French government at a national level and the establishment of a Division B stud book, the population was able to be increased. Animals were registered under Division B which had between 50 and 99.22% of Poitou donkey blood. These were donkeys of an unknown origin, but with the typical composition of Poitou donkeys. The stud book was closed again in 2007.

Today, all Poitou donkey foals must descend from parents who are registered in the Division A or B stud book. It is only after appropriate genetic tests that the foal receives the equivalent documents approved by the French government.