Rare Poitou Donkey Foals Born


The news just doesn’t get any better for a rare breed of donkeys that grow to be taller than most horses.

A British stud farm dedicated to preserving the rare Poitou donkey has managed to breed four foals within a 20-day period – two colts and two fillies.


Just 44 Poitou donkeys were known to exist in 1976. Their numbers have since increased to an estimated 600 to 800 worldwide.

The four newcomers, Tilda, Tomas, Tarka and Tizer, have proved to be a big hit for Woodford Farm, in Hampshire.


The farm eventually had to put up “no entry” signs after being inundated by members of the public to see the photogenic little newcomers.

The mares and their foals also became media darlings, with BBC local and national news services carrying the story.

However, the publicity has had a plus side. “We have had some genuine interest from other people who want to help save the breed,” said owner,  Annie Pollack.  

“We have had a short film made about us by the BBC Natural History Department.  

I just want more people to hear about Poitous and hence help save the breed.”


The first of the four foals was born on April 27; the other three following over the next 20 days.

The breed is much bigger than conventional donkeys, and can reach 16 hands. Poitous have a good covering of hair, with heat usually more of a problem than cold.

Life for the Poitous on Woodford Farm would be the envy of many horses. They have shelter from the rain and are fed twice daily, with lots of hay. They are groomed regularly and Annie says the foals get a lot of handling.


They are believed to date back to Roman times, with the records of the time referring to big donkeys.

“It was the whole industrialisation process that caused their downfall – railways, mechanisation, and a depression in agriculture.”

There is another reason for the Poitou‘s rarity.

“This breed was primarily used to breed mules – huge great 17-hand animals which were used for riding or as pack animals. They were crossed with a Mulassier mare, which is like a large, heavyweight French cob. They are also very rare.”


Annie says, “The Poitou are a lovely breed – gentle giants.  Worth saving?  I definitely think so.”



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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. They look so sweet. Sounds to me like they’re doing a great job of increasing the numbers.


  3. Hello Pamela,
    I don’t know where you are, but I do see that Woodford Farm in Lymington, Hampshire, England have stallions at stud.

    If you are in the USA, perhaps someone will read this and be able to provide helpful information.

  4. I believe these donkeys do need to be kept alive. We dont want another species going extinct now do we.

  5. I have curently purchesed one of thes animal and would like to get some information on thet animal what is safe and what is not safe.

  6. I am reading here an article on the news that lists the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy in Pittsboro, NC may be able to help you find breeders in the US for your poitou.

    I am a lifelong fan of Eeyore, who’s character was created to resemble this breed.

  7. Beautiful

  8. I am very interested in these donkeys!! Does anyone know if there are any in the United States? How would I go about finding one or two to add to my hobby farm?

  9. Can these animals be ridden? Have there been attempts to miniaturize them through breeding to the miniatures? Miniature Jack to female Poitou?
    Interesting prospects, but to what end? How can they be used other than show and pet? Would be a fabulous addition to hobby farm, but at what cost? Are there ANY breeders, owners in USA? Who controls registration?

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