Health is the result of many interrelated factors, some of which depend on us and others do not. One of the factors we can certainly control is the most effective and affordable prophylaxis we have, namely food.

Since ancient times, milk and dairy products have been indispensable for people. They are particularly valuable to children, but can actually be considered as universal foods for all age and occupational groups, in a state of health and illness. The biological value of milk can be appreciated by the simple fact that it provides the newborn with all the necessary nutrients for its intense metabolism, growth and development, without taking any other food.

For humanity, cow’s milk is the most commonly used food for the newborn, but also the first allergen in their life (Mariani, 2008).

The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology distinguishes allergy from intolerance (Sampson, 2004). Allergy is an adverse reaction to food with the involvement of the immune system, and intolerance is an adverse reaction to a food that does not include the immune system and shows various symptoms. Adverse reactions to cow’s milk were found in 2% of infants during the first year of life: 30% of cases were in the first month, 60% before the third and 96% in the twelfth year (Stintzing and Zetterstrom, 1979; Bock, 1987) .

An alternative substitute for human and cows’ milk can be milk from different animals such as goats, sheep, buffaloes, camels, mares and donkeys. The donkey (Equus asinus) is a member of the horse’s family, and its originator is a little gray donkey from North Africa (Equus africanus) domesticated about 4000 BC on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The donkeys’ most common role is to transport, and it still remains an important animal in the poorer regions of the world.

Donkey milk is a milk that is rich in vitamins and contains important fatty acids and protein very similar to mother’s milk. For this reason, it can be recommended for food in case of allergy to cow, sheep or soy milk (Tesse et al., 2009). Donkey milk is low in dry matter (8-10%), protein (1.5-1.8%) and high in lactose (6-7%). Proteins are characterized by a low level of casein (47.3%) and a high concentration of some essential amino acids such as valine and lysine (Taha and Kielwein, 1990; Salakidu et al., 2009). Whey protein in milk is about 36.9%, with only β-lactoglobulin occupying about 30% (Salimei et al., 2004).

The high lactose content in donkey milk is similar to that in breast milk, which plays an important role as it stimulates intestinal calcium absorption through positive effects on bone mineralization and thus stimulates the proper development of the nervous system during the first few months of development of the child (Taha and Kielwein, 1990).

The fat level in donkey milk ranges from 0.28% (Chiavari et al., 2005) to 1.82% (Oftedal and Jennes, 1988). The lipid fraction of milk contains high levels of essential fatty acids. It is recommended that these essential fatty acids be taken in the daily diet of a person by the consumption of certain foods or in the form of food supplements (Guo et al., 2007). These fatty acids have significant healing properties as they contribute to the development of the brain and retina. Donkey milk is rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which also predominate in breast milk (52-54%), with a high percentage of linoleic acid that has immune-stimulating and cholesterol-lowering properties (Taha and Kielwein, 1990).

Omega 3 fatty acids contained in donkey milk play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease as they help against thrombosis and can prevent heart rhythm disturbance.

The mineral composition is very similar to that of human milk, with the exception of the higher levels of calcium and phosphorus but the Ca-P ratio is similar (Salimei et al., 2004). Besides being used for infants, donkey milk can have many effects on the process of osteogenesis, arteriosclerosis therapy, rehabilitation of patients with cardiovascular diseases, premature aging and hypocholesterolemic diets (Chiofalo et al., 2001).

Various studies have found that donkey milk has a different meaning than its nutritional value. It is also of interest for cosmetics (Vincenzetti et al., 2007), because the vitamins contained in it (A, B2, C and E) have an effect on aging and regeneration of the skin (Guo, et al., 2007). Donkey milk has a high vitamin C content that has antioxidant action, thus favoring the “slowing down” of the aging process and accelerating the healing mechanisms of the skin. Vitamin E is also recognized as a substantially antioxidant that slows skin aging and ensures stability of cellular structures (Iacono et al., 1992).

Certainly, donkey milk has nutritional properties that make it more closely related to breast milk than another mammal. Therefore, it can be used not only as a substitute for allergic children but also as a new diet for people. One of the most important problems with the supply of milk is related to its seasonal availability during the year. The fertility of female donkeys is strictly related to exposure to light and the period is limited to a range of several months, mainly from February to July.

Compared to ruminant milk, donkey milk is much less researched, but in recent years interest in it has increased on the one hand to meet the need for an alternative to cow’s milk and on the other to clarify its legendary cosmetic and therapeutic properties.


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  14. Vincenzetti, S., Polidori, P., Mariani, P., Cammertoni, N., Fantuz, F., Vita, A. 2007. Donkey’s milk protein fractions characterization: Food Chemistry 106 (2008) 640-649.

Donkey Milk


(start of lactation)


(end of lactation)

Total Protein2,742,471,82
Titratable Acidity3,24,843,63
  1. BDS EN ISO 8968-1: 2014 – Milk and dairy products. Determination of nitrogen content. Part 1: Kjeldahl principle and raw protein calculation (ISO 8968-1: 2014).
  2. BDS EN ISO 1211: 2010 – Milk. Determination of fat content. Gravimetric method. (Reference method).
  3. BSS 1110: 1973 Milk. Methods for determining the density.
  4. BDS 1111: 1980 – Milk and dairy products. Determination of acidity.