March 05, 2013
The Poitou donkey or Poitou ass (French: baudet de Poitou), also called the Poitevin donkey or simply the Poitou, is a breed of donkey originating in the Poitou region of France. It is one of the largest donkey breeds, and was selected for size so that it could be used for the production of large working mules, in conjunction with the Poitevin horse breed.
The Poitou is known for its distinctive coat, called a cadanette, which hangs in long, ungroomed cords. Breeders originally prized the coats highly, to the point that prized animals who lost their coat lost much of their appeal. Today, some Poitous are shorn for hygienic reasons.
Poitous developed in the French Poitou region, possibly from donkeys introduced to the area by the Romans. They may have been a status symbol during the Middle Ages, and by the early 18th century, their physical characteristics had been established.
A studbook for the breed was established in French in 1884, and the 19th and early 20th centuries saw them being used for the production of mules throughout Europe and contributing to other donkey breeds. Increasing mechanization in the mid-20th century saw a decline in the need for, and hence population of, Poitous, and by 1977, a survey found only 44 members of the breed worldwide. Conservation efforts were begun, among a number of public and private breeders and organizations, and by 2005 there were 450 purebred Poitous.
Baudet du Poitou
March 05, 2013