In Italy, donkey dairies are growing in popularity to produce an alternative milk source for human infants. The use of donkey milk is not limited to the paediatric field, being used in geriatric nutrition and in the cosmetic industry. In 2010, the Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa, was involved in a project supported by the Tuscany Region Rural Development Fund 2007- 2013 dealing with the creation of a donkey milk productive chain. The project has as its main partner the Bandite di Scarlino, an agro-forestry complex of considerable size. It covers approximately 9000 hectares, which fall in Scarlino, Castiglione della Pescaia, Follonica and Gavorrano municipalities, under Tuscany regional control. The so-called FILAMI project (Filiera Latte Asino Amiatino, acronym of the goal of the project in Italian) had among its goals helping preserve an indigenous breed of donkeys called Amiatina. Salimei (2011) assessed that the presence of the foal during milking does not affect milk ejection in jennies (the female donkey) adapted to the milking procedure, but when foals are not present the milking routine is more manageable for the animals and for optimal milk harvest; in accordance, in the present farming system the jenny has been kept separately from the foal during the milking session. To this purpose, the stable, the milking parlour and the paddocks must be well organised with a proper milking routine. Milking facilities must be designed for the milk treatment and storage at low temperature or for freezing. Currently, the milk undergoes a pasteurisation cycle for human consumption, or directed to the cosmetic industry. Moreover, the milking facilities should fulfil the creation of a milk collection centre in order to play an important role between the dairy donkey farms and the dairy industry. In this paper, the technical and technological aspects of the donkey stable, paddocks, milking parlour, mobile milking unit, and processing plants have been described and the main issues addressed.
Dairy donkey; farm building design; milking facilities.