Investigation into the Nutritional Content and Microbiological Property of Abyssinian Donkey’s Milk
A study was carried out on donkey milk in Ada’a District of central Ethiopia to investigate the nutritional and microbiological properties of Abyssinian donkey’s milk. The study utilized primary data that were collected from 24 jennies in the study area. The physicochemical composition such as fat, total protein, lactose, minerals, vitamin C, pH, density, total solid and freezing points; and microbiological characteristics were analyzed. Results indicated that the Abyssinian donkey milk has close similarity with milk of other donkeys previously investigated elsewhere for most of the compositions. More importantly, the present findings confirmed that Abyssinian donkey milk has a very close similarity with human breast milk in its protein, lactose, vitamin C, pH, density, and zinc contents whereas, the concentrations of calcium, iron and magnesium were higher than those of human breast milk. Other unique properties of Abyssinian donkey milk were lack of fermentation and lower microbial load in contrast to cow’s milk. In conclusion, the findings of this preliminary study showed the existence of similarity between Abyssinian donkey’s milk and human breast milk in their physicochemical composition and thus could suggest that the Abyssinian donkey’s milk can serve as an alternative supplement for human breast milk despite differences in some aspects of the microbiological and sensory properties. However, Abyssinian donkey’s milk should be tested for its safety to human being before it is recommended for human consumption.
Key words: donkey milk, Ethiopia, human breast milk, physicochemical property