In the countryside of Martina Franca, in the Murgia of Taranto, the most famous donkey breed of the world – The Donkey of Martina Franca – is bred, the giant of this breed that takes its noun from the awesome city of Puglia.
The history of the Donkey of Martina Franca is closely related to the arid and stony area of the Murge, especially the south-eastern areas whose pedoclimatic characteristics made these animals particularly strong and robust.
The origin is still unclear; indeed it is thought that the Donkey of Martina Franca derives from the Catalan Donkey who was imported during the Spanish dominion. However, according to some investigators, the importation involved only some head of cattle. Therefore, it is likely that a native donkey breed could already exist and was characterized by a dark coat and a fabulous size whereby a cross between the Italian and Spanish “cousins” improved the breed’s peculiarity giving birth to one of the most requested donkeys in the world.
In 1926, the Ministry of Agriculture started in Puglia the process of selection of the donkey breed of Martina Franca in collaboration with the former Regio Deposito Stalloni of Foggia
Surely, the most evident feature of the donkey concerns the dimensions. Indeed, male donkeys reach 160 m. or more. In addition to the wither they have a good dark and furry coat, an active disposition and a kind character.
The donkey stallion breed of Martina Franca was used especially for the production of the famous Muli Martinesi (Mules of Martina) successfully exported all around the world until the end of the 50s.
At present this breed that risked the extinction in the 80s is again very requested for the donkey milk production which was used to substitute human milk for children who suffered from allergies and in cosmetics as well.
Furthermore, the breed is highly requested for the meat production both for fresh-cut meat and cured meats, and for onotherapy