Poitou Donkeys
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PoitournDonkeys originates from the Poitou region of France, and they are mostrnlikely related to the Poitevin horses. It is thought that they were introducedrnin France by the Romans and may have been a wealth status symbol for FrenchrnNobility. They were also regarded as the finest and strongest donkeys inrnFrance, since they were as tall as large mules with legs and joints as large asrnmost carriage horses.

rnrnPoitou donkeys are darkrnbrown or black. They also have a white underbelly, nose, and rings around theirrneyes. They are well known for their distinctive coat that hangs in long cords.rnTheir shaggy coat is called acadanette,rnand is actually long soft hair that tangles and mats easily. Breedersrnoriginally prized the cadanettes, but today most breeders or owners of Poitou Donkeysrnshear them, because it is difficult to keep their long locks clean.

rnrnThe Poitou breed isrnthought to have been established in France in 1884 when a studbook for thernbreed was established. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the Poitou werernalso used to help create other donkey breeds in America such as the AmericanrnMammoth Jack.

rnrnDuring the mechanization of farms in the 19th and 20thrncenturies, donkeys declined in number and popularity and by 1977 reached anrnall-time low population. 

rnrnIn 1996,rnthe Hamilton Rare Breeds Foundation was founded in Vermont. There Poitourndonkeys were bred and as of 2004, 26 purebred and 14 partbred Poitous werernrecorded, making this foundation the largest Poitou population in the UnitedrnStates, and the second largest in the world next to France's governmentrnsponsored efforts to preserve the Poitou breed. Conservation efforts continue today and techniques for using cryopreservation to develop a sperm bank for Poitou donkeys has been developed tornhelp restore the Poitou breed.

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