Do You Know Donkey Farming Is a Highly Profitable Business?

Diverse ‘Animal Agriculture’ is the order of the day. Dairy farming, sheep and Goat farming, Pig farming, rabbit farming, mink farming, poultry, Quail and Pheasant, Emu, Ostrich farming, dog farming etc. Very rarely we come across donkey farming. Let us see how this farming is beneficial and profitable to the farmer in this paper.

 The ‘donkey’ still stands as a symbol of humiliation, despite the difficulty of crossing the difficult path and the ability to remember the same paths and find his master in any crowd. When addressing someone as a ‘donkey’ in a mocking manner, remember that there is no other animal that is superior to a donkey. Donkeys that touch each other and enjoy the creativity of nature are a perfect example of symbiotic love. It is very sad that we do not use donkey as a ‘farming animal’.

Over 38% of the world equine population (114 million) is made up of donkeys and more than 97% are found in developing countries and are specifically kept for work. Despite their significant contribution to the national economy, the donkeys are not given adequate importance in our animal Husbandry activities. Farmers are yet to know the importance of donkey farming especially its milk for human welfare and its dung to crops. 100 ml can cost up to Rs.1000 in the market. Donkey dung is an excellent organic manure. Like donkey milk, donkey dung is in high demand. Recognizing the infinite possibilities of the donkey, a symbol of innocence, will enable us to reach the larger world of business.

The global donkey milk market size valued at $ 26,180 thousand in 2019 and projected to reach $78,139/-thousands by 2027, registering a CARG of 9.4% growth from 2021 to 2027.  Can you believe one spoonful of donkey’s milk is sold for Rs 50/- in India and there are people queuing up to buy the milk for their babies and also for themselves! The milk is particularly popular among those parents with new-born babies as the milk is said to help build immunity for the kids. The milk as nutritious as mother’s milk and many times replaces mother’s milk too in villages. Even new-born babies are fed one spoon of donkey’s milk along with mother’s milk as an ass’ milk comes closest to the human milk. It has anti-microbial components such as lysozyme. It is rich in such components and is very good for building immunity.

Importance of Donkey’s Milk: Donkey’s milk is rich in vitamins A, B, B1, B12, C and E. Therefore, it is  important for  building good immunity. It is also used in manufacturing premium cosmetics. The use of donkey’s milk is good for increasing skin radiance and eliminating wrinkles associated with aging. As per the history, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt has it that she bathed daily in the milk of 700 donkeys to maintain her youth. From this we can understand the glory of donkey milk. Donkey milk, which is rich in antioxidants, has been found to fight premature aging.

It was noticed that there was demand for donkey’s mil during Covid19 pandemic due to its immune boosting ability and fight against cough, respiratory infections, bronchitis, asthma and TB. Donkey’s milk contains many nutrients and minerals that help digestion. Its properties similar to human milk due to presence of components such as proteins, omega 69 fatty acids, lactose and amino acids. Therefore, it is considered as a substitute for cow’s milk in feeding toddlers having allergies to cow’s milk. In addition, it contains immune enhancers compounds, which protects toddlers from infection. In addition, high content of lysozyme provides prevention from pathogenic microorganisms. Moreover, the mineral content of the milk such as calcium, Iron and liposoluble vitamins it is great nutraceutical. Donkey’s milk is a great remedy for fatigue, asthma, respiratory problems, abdominal pain, eye pain and so on. Donkey milk can also be given to children as it contains as many nutrients as breast milk. It should be noted that donkey milk does not cause any allergies. Donkey’s milk should not be boiled like other milk. Can be stored in refrigerators for up to a year. Donkey milk based cosmetics are highly valued in the market. But these are at the forefront in terms of quality. Not only does it maintain the skin’s natural radiance, it is also an excellent remedy for all skin ailments. The following table provides comparative value of donkey milk with mare, human and cow:

Composition of donkey’s, mare’s, human and cow’s milk (g/100 g)
pH7.0 – – 7.56.6 – 6.8
Protein g/100g1.5 – 1.81.5 – 2.80.9 – 1.73.1 – 3.8
Fat g/100g0.3 – 1.80.5 – 2.03.5 – 4.03.5 – 3.9
Lactose g/100g5.8 – 7.45.8 – 7.06.3 – 7.04.4 – 4.9
Total Solids (TS) g/100 g8.8–11.79.3–11.611.7–12.912.5–13.0
Casein Nitrogen (CN) g/100 g0.64–1.030.94–1.20.32–0.422.46–2.80
Whey protein g/100 g0.49–0.800.74–0.910.68–0.830.55–0.70
NPN g/100 g0.18–0.410.17–0.350.26–0.320.1–0.19
Casein Nitrogen (CN) %47.285026.0677.23
Whey protein %36.9638.7953.5217.54
NPN %15.7611.2120.425.23

 Guo, H.Y; Pang, K; Zhang, X.Y; Zhao, L; Chen, S.W; Dong, M.L; Ren, F.Z (2007).  Journal of Dairy Science. 90 (4): 1635–43. 

Management of Donkeys

Donkeys are widely known for their calm demeanor. They prefer to graze in herds in the meadows. The donkey’s favorite is the finely chopped fodder. Pineapples are a good source of nutrients for lactating and pregnant donkey’s. They do not chew like other animals after feeding. The donkey has only one chamber in the digestive system, just like a human. A balanced diet consisting of corn bran and rice bran is good for donkey health. The donkey’s stomach can hold up to nine liters of water. The donkey withstands any adverse climate and a highly immune animal.

Breeding of donkeys

Significant care is essential in donkey breeding. The donkey is considered a seasonal polyestrous one, but the latitude in which the farm is located can greatly influence the reproduction cycle. The gestation period is 13-14 months. Female donkeys reach maturity at the age of three months. Female donkeys are more valuable in the market. Always chewing mouth and parallel hind legs are considered to be enough signs. The donkey can be weaned on the twentieth day after calving.   Donkey milk production differs greatly from that of conventional dairy species, especially in terms of milk supply which is much more limited. The equid mammary gland has a low capacity (max 2.5 L) and a part of the milk production should be left to the foal and milking may be carried out two or three hours after separation from the foal. Donkeys should be milked three times a day from 20 to 90 days after foaling. A female give between 0.5 and 1.3 liters of milk a day for about 6–7 months. The variability of donkey milk production is due to many factors, such as individual milk ability, nutrition, genetics, management of reproduction, etc., in addition to milking management.

Nutritional Requirements

To provide the best standards of welfare of donkeys and to keep them healthy, they need to be provided 24-hour access to shelter and water. A safe, clean environment that is free of hazards. A high fibre, low sugar diet to be provided. In other words,donkeys require a diet high in fibre and low in protein, sugars, starch/carbohydrates and calories. The donkey diet should consist of mainly good quality barley straw or oat straw (barley straw is best) and carefully restricted access to grass.Crude protein requirement for donkeys is thought to be somewhere in the range of 3.8-7.4% of the diet compared to 8-12% percent for mature horses. Research has shown that on average a donkey will eat approximately 1.3 – 1.8% dry matter of its bodyweight per day. For a 180kg, donkey, this equates to 2-3kg dry matter per day.

General considerations

  • All feed stuffs should be of high quality.
  • All equines are sensitive to toxins that can be found in spoiled feeds.
  • All feed stuffs should be free from moulds.
  • All changes to their diet should be made gradually, over at least 7-14 days.
  • Donkeys prefer to browse for their bulk and fiber throughout the day.
  • Donkeys prefer to eat little and often. Provide aid-lib barley straw.
  • Do not over feed your donkey; check the body condition of your donkey regularly.
  • Donkeys do not need high levels of sugar in their diets.
  • If in any doubt about the energy value or the quality of any feed, it is advisable to seek expert advice.
  • Always provide a suitable balancer or mineral lick and permanent access to a clean water supply.
  • Never feed grass clippings and ensure that your neighbours are aware of the dangers of doing this as it can lead to colic.

The Donkey Sanctuary has produced this guide with daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and seasonal advice to help you plan how to care for your donkeys properly throughout the year.


  • Twice a day, watch your donkey closely to make sure it is displaying normal behaviour and not showing signs of injury or illness.
  • Twice a day, check the amount your donkey is eating and drinking. Also check the consistency and frequency of any droppings.
  • Remove rugs and check your donkey for rubs or sores.
  • Groom your donkey if its coat is dry and pick out its feet.
  • Apply insect repellent according to the time of year.
  • Give enough high-fibre, low-energy food (such as barley straw) to satisfy your donkey’s natural appetite and maintain a healthy body condition.
  • Extra feed may be required depending on your donkey’s individual needs or the time of year.
  • If the weather is suitable, turn your donkey out in a paddock to graze. Consider your donkey’s health and stage of life before turning out to graze; it may not be appropriate to allow grazing. It is also important to check the availability of shelter, before they are allowed to graze.
  • Organise daily exercise to keep your donkey fit and healthy. Provide ridden, driven or walking exercise if turnout is not available.
  • Make sure clean, fresh water is easily available. Check buckets and troughs are clean and working properly.
  • Muck-out stables and remove droppings from fields and yards.
  • Give your donkey toys or non-poisonous bark-covered logs for extra mental stimulation.


  • Check all perimeter fences for damage. Make sure fencing is well-maintained and secure.
  • Check for poisonous plants. Correctly remove and destroy any that you find.
  • Disinfect stable floors and remove excess dust from stables and shelters.


  • Arrange farrier visits every 6-10 weeks.
  • Record your donkey’s body condition score and heart girth measurement. Use these with the weight estimator tool, or a donkey-specific weigh tape, to monitor weight gain or loss.
  • Take your donkey’s temperature and respiratory rate.


  • Carry out a faecal worm egg count test at least twice yearly to check for worms. The results of this test will help you decide whether you need to give a chemical worming treatment. You should administer wormers as advised by your vet or by a person qualified to give advice.
  • Arrange a visit from a vet or a qualified equine dental technician to check your donkey’s teeth. Depending on the condition of your donkey’s teeth, you may be told to arrange more frequent dental checks.
  • Organise a vet check and arrange for your donkey to have any appropriate vaccination boosters.
  • Check that your donkey’s stable is in good condition. Make sure the water supply and electrics are in safe working order.

Common Donkey Diseases

System wise problems

Circulatory: Equine Infectious Anemia (“Swamp Fever”)

Gastrointestinal: AnthraxColicDiarrheaGastric ulcersInternal Parasites – Large Strongyles, Small Strongyles, Roundworms, Pinworms, and Tapeworms

Metabolic: Equine Cushing’s DiseaseEquine Metabolic Syndrome

Musculoskeletal System: Arthritis, Club Foot, Hoof AbscessesHoof AvulsionHoof CracksHoof Overgrowth,LaminitisPigeon FeverThrushWhite Line Disease (‘Seedy Toe’)

Neurological: Equine Encephalomyelitis, Equine Protozoal MyeloencephalitisTetanus (‘LockJaw’),  West Nile VirusRabies

Reproductive System: Cryptorchidism

Respiratory:  AnthraxEquine Herpes VirusEquine InfluenzaLungwormsStrangles

Skin And Hair:  AbscessesAnthraxBrucellosisDermatophilosis (‘Rain Scald’), External Parasites ( Lice, Mites, and Ticks), Insect Hypersensitivity (‘Sweet Itch’)Pastern And Heel Dermatitis (‘Mud Fever’)Pigeon FeverSarcoids

Urinary System: Cystitis and Pyelonephritis

Vision: CataractsConjunctivitis

Weight and Diet:  HyperlipaemiaLaminitisObesity

Indian Scenario

142 Donkey Milk Suppliers & Exporters in India. The National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE) is started donkey milk dairy in Haryana’s Hisar. The NRCE in Hisar is set to open diary of milk given by Halari breed of donkey It is learnt that these donkeys are currently undergoing breeding at NRCE Hisar. This breed of donkey is found in Gujarat and its milk is considered as a treasure of medicines. The donkey of Halari breed has the ability to fight against diseases like cancer, obesity, allergies, etc.

Do you know who started the first Donkey Farm in India or who introduced donkey milk? So, let me tell you that Aby Baby was the first person to introduce the benefits of donkey’s milk and cosmetics based on donkey’s milk to the public. He owns the first donkey farm in India which is located at Ramamangalam in Ernakulam district, Kerala. When he first started a farm that brought donkeys to his place, locals and relatives discouraged Aby. But he did not give up and set up his dream venture, Donkey Farm. With 30 donkeys of different breeds, Aby Baby is thankful for the revolutionary changes in this field. He developed world-class cosmetic products from donkey’s milk, which are just as nutritious as breast milk.

The idea from the Bible also gave new dimensions to that thought. The Bible testifies that ‘Iyob had a thousand donkeys’. He realized that this verse had something to do with business. Female donkeys are reared only for milk. The letters that were so importantly written in the Bible also marked a turning point in Aby’s life. The donkey has the ability to cross difficult trails, to remember the same paths, and to find its master in any crowd. Donkeys are a prime example of mutual love. Aby called the donkeys the greatest animal in the world and not considered them a sign of stupidity. He roamed South and North India in search of donkeys to mark the start of his business venture. In the end, the journey turned out well. He acquired 30 female donkeys and one male donkey from different parts of Tamil Nadu. The “Dolphin IBA” manufacturing unit is the result of his subsequent hard work and research. It will be operational in 2016.

He launched Fairness Cream, Shampoo, Soap, Lip Balm, Body Wash and many more products under the brand name “Dolphin IBA”. This is the first such venture in India. 

His products are very popular not only in India but also abroad. In addition to being a cosmetic, his creams have the unique ability to cure skin diseases.

 It is used as a milk powder. It’s expensive to do this. If one ton of milk is cooled and dried, 70 kg of powder is obtained. The machinery used for this process is worth Rs 1.5 crore. For these reasons, the value of these value-added products is a bit high. The market price of a liter of milk is Rs. 5000-6000. Not only milk and value added products but also donkey’s urine and dung earns him income.

Similarly, a Delhi-based entrepreneur running a campaign to save donkeys is set to introduce beauty products using donkey milk in Karnataka.  Mrs. Pooja Kaul, who has a fellowship from IIT-Delhi, piloted her project in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and has moved on to Delhi NCR, among other parts in north India.

Pooja Kaul, a 24-year-old realised that donkey rearing communities in Sholapur suffered because their income which came from renting their donkeys for construction sites and brick kilns was only seasonal. She also found an opportunity. There are about 3.4 billion of donkeys in India, and one litre of donkey milk can cost more than Rs 2000. This could eliminate the problem of seasonal employment for the communities.

She mobilised donkey owner communities with favourable prices near Sholapur and started ‘Organiko, India’s first social enterprise supporting commercial activities from donkey milk. This has increased the income of the owners from Rs 9000 to around Rs 25000 per month and even the donkeys get better looked after, as the donkey is the new source of income for these families

In August 2017 she harnessed the natural medicinal and anti-aging properties of donkey milk to make beauty products such as soap and with the mentorship of Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Foundation (WEE) took a huge leap to help India find its well-deserved space in the organic beauty section.

Donkey farming is lucrative business if properly designed and planned for marketing its value added products.

Prof. R.N.Sreenivas Gowda

Former Vice Chancellor, KVAFSU, Bidar