It is said that Cleopatra, Queen of Ancient Egypt, took baths in donkey milk to preserve the beauty and youth of her skin. Legend has it that no less than 700 donkeys were needed to provide the quantity of milk necessary for her daily bath.
Now we aren't saying you should go get an excessively large donkey farm straight away.. but donkey milk is a new up and coming trend heading your way. Haven't heard of donkey milk? neither had we.
Although seemingly strange and unheard of in European culture (I hadn't heard about it until recently) it is a known popular traditional drink in Asia, Russia and Mongolia. Donkey milk is becoming a widely used ingredient in the beauty industry for face masks, lotions, soaps and moisturisers. But why choose donkey milk over say goat milk? cow milk?
Well the reason behind the growing popularity is research into the make up of the milk. That is to say that Donkey's milk is similar of human milk for its lactose, proteins, minerals, and omega-69 fatty ameno-acid content. A mouthful right? well in simpler terms its got higher good fats and proteins then other milks. For example vitamin C content in donkey milk is almost 4 times more of cow's milk.
Now the part that made me feel a little better about this donkey story on production was the question about how big a deal is this turning into? Will happy donkeys be forced into giant herds for this growing industry?
Donkeys on these farms often have a decent life compared to many. They enjoy plenty of wonderful outdoor space and the company of other donkeys. In some ways, they live a more natural and happier life than some companion donkeys.
Kristie Jorgensen, Long Ears Mall.com blogger, writes that “The donkeys at these farms are milked every day, and unlike dairy cows, the mothers are still allowed to raise their babies. Moms and babies live together like in any other donkey herd. When the babies are two or three months old, the farms start separating them from the moms for a couple hours each day. They are still within sight of each other, just in a separate pasture. While separated, the jennet’s udder fills with milk, then after a couple hours, she is milked out, then returned to her baby for the rest of the day”.
At Ile de Ré, a small donkey milk farm in South West France, “The foals are separated from their mother for six hours in order to harvest a little over a litre per donkey per day. Milking is done manually and foals are weaned between eight and ten months”. The Donkey Sanctuary recommends weaning between 4 and 6 months so this is more than sufficient.
Generally, a donkey farm, aimed at milk’s production are small, with usually less than 40 donkeys per farm. In Europe and specifically in Emilia Romagna (Italy) there is only one very great asinine farm with 800 donkeys (although only a quarter of that number will be lactating at any one time).. So really there is only room for one Cleopatra out there. She clearly was more organised then us in the modern day. Maybe the rise in interest will alter this slightly however the use of it in beauty trends as appose to drinking litres a day means this is a lower impact on the donkeys, on the carers and on the environment.
So what can we do as the consumers? how can we get the best benefits and stay mindful of what is happening to get the products we are choosing. Doing research before picking a product (however glittery or nice smelling) is going to be a solid start. Reading all those boring ingredient lists on the back of packets and knowing which ones are worth avoiding is a good basic start. We here at Sud Off! want to keep all products honest and let you decide what goes on you and your family. We also want to keep out products that we know are unethical, bad for the environment and for making the right choice where possible. Education about new and upcoming trends is an important job for us and giving you the scoop so you can have a look into a trend is a great heads up start.