The donkey has been a good friend of mankind since time immemorial.
In the past, in the Mediterranean area, the donkey was an irreplaceable assistant in agricultural work, it was also the main means of transport, while today it is mainly used for exhibition purposes, but also for obtaining milk.
We visited the Dar-Mar donkey farm in the hinterland of Zadar on the family farm of Damir Štulina, which currently houses 40 donkeys. There used to be over 100 donkeys on the farm, but the owner decided to reduce the number in order to be able to produce all the necessary food for organic cattle breeding.
- We provide them with daily grazing, and they mostly eat hay, grass and oats. We often reward them with treats such as apples or carrots, and as we are often visited by animal lovers with children, during the visit everyone gets a bowl of corn with which they feed the donkeys. In the summer we have to provide them with enough fresh water. It’s never boring with donkeys. Donkeys are tidy and groom each other. Here, on the farm they have a fenced area where they can move and feed freely, and they usually spend the winter in the barn. They instinctively seek shelter from wind and rain. For now, the plan is to maintain this number of donkeys and improve our own production of animal feed, which would increase the quality of food and the quality of cattle as well, said Damir Štulina.
Donkeys are extremely hardworking, but can be very stubborn. If they decide something, it is very difficult to reassure them. This farm is home to many other domestic species in addition to donkeys: sheep, horses and several species of poultry. Yet, the main activity of the farm is the production of donkey milk.
Donkey’s milk has long been used for nutrition, healing, boosting immunity and beauty. The Greeks considered it a great medicine, and the Romans a luxury drink. Donkey’s milk is most similar in composition to breast milk. It has a low percentage of fat and a lot of vitamins, and as it tastes sweet, children like to drink it. Some children who are allergic to cow’s, goat’s and soy milk can easily consume donkey’s milk. This milk contains sixty times more vitamin C than cow’s milk and since it has vitamins A, D and E and is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus, it really is a nutritional gold mine.
Damir Štulina started breeding donkeys after people came to him in search of donkey’s milk, which has long been known as a cure for a child’s disease called whooping cough and today it has become a family business. His greatest reward is when those whom he helped to overcome their health problems with donkey milk call him with gratitude.