The pyrenean donkey
There are seven breeds of donkeys in France, and they hail from the four corners of the country.
To the North, you’ll find the Cotentin and Normand donkeys, in Central France, you’ll have the Grand Noir du Berry and the Bourbonnais donkey. To the West, you’ll find the Baudet du Poitou donkey. In Southeast France, the Provence donkey and lastly, in the South West: the Pyrenean donkey.
For centuries, small-scale mountain farmers chose the Pyrenean donkey (âne des Pyrénées) to help with their work as it has a robust constitution, first-rate rusticity and an unparalleled sureness of foot. We can now distinguish between two types of Pyrenean donkey, with the main difference being their size: the Gascon, standing at between 1.20 and 1.35 metres, is well suited as to pack and tow work; the Catalan, standing at more than 1.35 metres, is mostly sought after to draw vehicles and produce mules. These two types of donkeys have the same dark coat, except for the tip of the nose, around the eyes and their belly, which are white.
Established in 1994, the French association of Pyrenean donkey and mule breeders, Association des éleveurs d'ânes et de mulets des Pyrénées (APY), obtained official recognition of this breed from the French Ministry of Agriculture in 1997. Since then, it has been steadfastly involved in the production, promotion and use of this fantastic animal. It manages the studbook together with the supervisory bodies, organises breeding and handling competitions, and holds pack and cart driving classes.
All these actions improve Pyrenean donkey husbandry and its fitness for work. What‘s more, by encouraging knowledge sharing, the technical skills of breeders and users alike are improved.
The Pyrenean donkey is therefore a valuable part of rural development: a partner for leisure activities, a towing force for eco-friendly farming practices, a producer of donkey milk cosmetics, a hiking companion for ecotourism... the list goes on! This easy-going, generous and loyal equine always finds a way to be of service in so many ways !