The Baudet du Poitou (Poitou Donkey)
The Baudet du Poitou
(Poitou Donkey)
What is a Poitou Donkey?

The Poitou Donkey (Baudet du Poitou), while arguably the most recognizable donkey in the world, is the least known and  most endangered.  From an inventoried 44 animals (worldwide) in 1977, there are now an estimated 400 pure and part-bred animals in the world today.

The Poitou is instantly recognizable for a number of characteristics.  Most notable is the long shaggy coat; always dark brown or black, with no cross or stripe, but hanging in long cords or shaggy hanks.  The coat (called a cadanette) was so highly prized by breeders that a champion jack who had lost the traditional coat was not even placed in a class at a later show!  The coat is still a factor in the modern breed, but size, bone and measurement are more important.  In addition, the coat is such a strong breed trait that even a 1/8th Poitou may resemble the pure-bred.  However the purebred will have more massive bone, and a larger foot than a part-bred animal.

The Poitou was never used for work, being prized as a mule-breeding jack.  The mules sired by these giant Draft Donkeys held worldwide acclaim.  The dam of the Poitou Mule is the Trait Mulassier, a massive bay, black, sorrel or dun draft horse, considered coarse by some, but actually an animal of great beauty.  Their heavy heads often have Roman noses, and the legs are heavily feathered from the knee down to the massive hoof. 

The breeders of Poitou donkeys kept the jacks for mule breeding, but as the need for mules declined after the wars, the breed of donkey was nearly lost.  Also, the Mulassier horse experienced a similar fate.  Both breeds, through careful management and rebreeding efforts, are finally beginning to have viable populations again.

In the case of the Poitou donkey, Portuguese jennets who matched the phenotype (visual) characteristics of the Poitou breed (ie black or brown, tall with good bone) were put to pure-bred Poitou jacks.  The part-bred males resulting from the cross-breeding efforts were used only for mule-breeding, while the females of various percentages and meeting the measurements for the breed standard were placed back in the breeding effort.

The hope of the French breeders is to be able to use only 75% (F2) or higher percentage females in the near future, and eliminate the half-bred females (F1) from the program, unless they are of superb type.  By crossing the part-bred females to only pure-bred males, the offspring should reach purity of breed by the fifth generation.

There are two registration books for the Baudet du Poitou.  The first is Livre A ; for animals that are purebred.  In order to be inscribed in Livre A, both parents of a foal must be Livre A, inscribed in the Studbook and recorded with SIRE. The studbooks for France are regulated by the French Ministry Of Agriculture.  Livre B is open only to part-bred females who are the offspring of a pure-bred (inscribed Livre A) male and a female of unknown or Livre B status.  (Partbred males are not allowed to breed female Poitous of any percentage.  They are used only in mule production.)  As of Feb 2000, there were recorded 55 male/65 F Livre A animals in the Poitou region of France, 48m/55f in other areas of France, and 60 M/65F in other parts of the world.   However, of the recorded numbers, only 24% of the females were currently producing offspring.  The numbers for the breed are rising, but it goes slowly. 

The goal of the Poitou breeder in the future is to safeguard the breed.  The pure-bred themselves do not make good riding animals, they are true draft animals and exhibit a gait characteristic of that type of equine.  They are heavy-boned and often appear slow and clumsy.  The jacks are kept exclusively for breeding, and the jennets are bred in late February or March following their 2-year old year. Part-bred males may be castrated and used as regular working donkeys, or the best are reserved as mule-breeding sires.  A few breeders, especially in the United States, have trained their Poitou donkeys to harness, but it is not a sight you would see in France.

By French law, only animals properly inscribed in the Studbook of France are allowed to be called Baudet du Poitous or Poitou Donkeys.  All others, regardless of purity of breeding, may not use the name if they do not have their official French papers.

There are a number of animals in the United States that are pure-bred, but not yet inscribed in the Studbook.  The Franco-American Baudet Breeders Association (FABBA), formed in Nov 1999, in conjunction with the American Donkey and Mule Society (ADMS) is the official breeders liaison between the French Studbook and the American and Canadian breeders of Poitou Donkeys. 

This site will be under construction, but if you would like to have additional information on Poitous, please send your postal mailing address to ADMS, PO Box 1210, Lewisville TX 75067 or e-mail
adms@juno.com

NEWS FLASH!  FABBA & ADMS representatives have just returned from FRANCE!  2 Mulassier mares and 3 Livre B Baudet jennets have been purchased for import to the USA!  Keep an eye on this website for more information as we have photos ready!!!                             updated 9-4-00   ****


NEWS FLASH - Good News and Bad News!
One Mulassier mare and One Poitou jennet test positive for piro, unable to come to USA   (12-00)  One F3 (87.5) Livre B jennet arrives in Texas!

NEWS FLASH - Mulassier Stallion (colt) and Mare on their way to Vermont to join Rare Breed Foundation. (1-12-01)

1-25-01 - Mulassier filly and 75% (F2) Poitou filly in quarantine in NY to arrive  later in Texas! (1-25-01)

1-26-01.   One Mulassier may not pass entry
bloodtests to USA - number back down to 3 USA Mulassiers again!

1-30-01 American Representative and Breeders to attend Assembly General in Niort, France.  1-16-01

2-3-01 -
Frozen semen trial in French Poitou jennet! 

2-7-01 - Americans home from France, Great time - Visiting Assenierie, HARAS, and discussing future of Poitou in America.

4-04 - Livre A Foal born in USA using frozen semen!!! 

Current count of Mulassiers in the USA - 3 (one aged mare, one mature stallion, one 4-yr old mare). 4-04

This page updated last on 4-30-04
Tito, a Baudet in France
Links to Poitou and Donkey Sites
Am. Donkey & Mule Society
SABAUD
Thor's Home Page
FABBA
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Name: Leah Patton, Acting Sec.
Email: adms@juno.com
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