Baudet du Poitou Donkeys

Baudet du Poitou foal in buttercups

Reliability – it’s the smallest thing in the world, yet the hardest thing to find. Annie is one of the most reliable people I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.

We first contacted Annie in the summer of 2007, with a view to buying a companion donkey for our new 2-year-old Clydesdale mare, Amber. Annie asked lots of questions, and recommended we come and visit “Shrek” a young Poitou gelding, as she felt he would be ideal for our needs.

Shrek, renamed “Dylan” came to join our family in September 2007, and as Annie anticipated, has bonded beautifully with Amber – in fact they are inseparable!! Annie has always been at the end of the phone / email, to assist with all our “new owner” queries and concerns – sometimes it just good to be reassured we are doing things right!

I would recommend Annie (and Poitou donkeys) to anyone considering a lifelong donkey friend!

Sarah-Jane Newton

Baudet du Poitou donkeys are one of the rarest breeds of donkey in the world. There are currently about 60 of these magnificent animals in the UK, and less than 800 in the world. They are possibly one of the oldest breeds, and are believed to have existed in France since the Roman occupation of 54BC.

Baudet du Poitou donkeys were the back-bone of French agriculture, having been used to breed giant mules, by crossing a Poitou jack with a Trait du Poitevin mare (a French cob). The mules could grow to 17 or 18 hands, and in the Middle Ages owning one was seen as sign of wealth and nobility. In 1867 a Veterinary Surgeon from the Poitou region estimated that more than 18,000 animals were sold annually and made a significant contribution towards the local revenue.

Norley farm is currently the only Baudet du Poitou donkey stud in the UK. All our stock is registered in the French studbook. Annie had to apply to Defra and the Haras Nationaux to become the "Official Representative of Baudet du Poitou" in the UK, in order that she could breed them here. The process took over 18 months, but has been well worth the effort. Annie now helps any UK breeders with any problems they may have with Baudet du Poitous including registration of foals. If you are looking for a Baudet du Poitou donkey, please visit our For Sale page.

Our aim is to help bring this magnificent breed back from the brink of extinction, producing animals not only with true Poitou characteristics, but also with great temperaments.

One hundred years ago there were lots of Baudet du Poitou donkeys, but their numbers declined with the advent of the railways and the introduction of mechanisation to farming. After two World Wars a lot of the donkeys were sent to the abattoirs to help feed the starving French population. By 1977 there were only 44 Poitous left in the world. The French Authorities realised that the Poitou would be extinct if nothing was done, so along with the remaining breeders a concentrated effort was made to save this lovely animal.

The French have avoided the problems of in-breeding by introducing a system which allowed donkeys without Poitou paperwork, but with all the Poitou characteristics, to be given a "B Book", F0 status in the Studbook. By breeding these with pure-bred "A Book" jacks, foals with 50% Poitou blood could be bred (F1) These donkeys could be bred back to pure-bred jacks, so each generation would produce foals with an increasing percentage of Poitou blood (F1 50% to F2 75% to F3 87.5% right up to F7 99.22% which is considered pure).

Within the Studbook there are therefore the pure-bred A Book Poitous and the part-bred B Book Poitous. Both are very valuable in helping to save the breed, but the colt foals who have B Book or part bred status can never be used to breed Baudet du Poitou foals and should be gelded. They make lovely pets or field companions. They can be driven, (but we recommend starting them later than a horse), and some can be ridden.

To be given breeding status, an A Book jack must be assessed by a panel of Poitou judges, and only the very best, most true to type, are given the "Approved" status. There are currently only about 85 Approved jacks in the world and we are very lucky to have two of them standing at stud here in England. Nestor de Lathus won the Poitou Championship show in 2006, and we were lucky to be able to buy him. Paulo de Genet was a young jack who I bought in 2005, and he has proved himself to be an able herd-sire.