About Poitou Donkeys
Donkeysoriginates from the Poitou region of France, and they are most
likely related to the Poitevin horses. It is thought that they were introduced
in France by the Romans and may have been a wealth status symbol for French
Nobility. They were also regarded as the finest and strongest donkeys in
France, since they were as tall as large mules with legs and joints as large as
most carriage horses.
Poitou donkeys are dark
brown or black. They also have a white underbelly, nose, and rings around their
eyes. They are well known for their distinctive coat that hangs in long cords.
Their shaggy coat is called acadanette,
and is actually long soft hair that tangles and mats easily. Breeders
originally prized the cadanettes, but today most breeders or owners of Poitou Donkeys
shear them, because it is difficult to keep their long locks clean.
The Poitou breed is
thought to have been established in France in 1884 when a studbook for the
breed was established. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the Poitou were
also used to help create other donkey breeds in America such as the American
During the mechanization of farms in the 19th and 20th
centuries, donkeys declined in number and popularity and by 1977 reached an
all-time low population.
the Hamilton Rare Breeds Foundation was founded in Vermont. There Poitou
donkeys were bred and as of 2004, 26 purebred and 14 partbred Poitous were
recorded, making this foundation the largest Poitou population in the United
States, and the second largest in the world next to France’s government
sponsored efforts to preserve the Poitou breed. Conservation efforts continue today and techniques for using cryopreservation to develop asperm bankfor Poitou donkeys has been developed to
help restore the Poitou breed.