Asinerie du Baudet du Poitou
The Asinerie du Baudet du Poitou, part of the “Echappées Nature” network, is devoted to breeding the oldest species of donkey in France, the Baudet du Poitou, and is a place where these animals are employed in various activities.
The Asinerie is situated at the heart of the pastoral Charente-Maritime area, on the edge of the Chizé forest and just a stone’s throw from the charming village of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne. The centre offers educational and leisure activities on its 55 hectares of protected land.
There are beautiful footpaths for rambling around the farm. Outside of the property, one can roam freely about the forest and catch a glimpse of other, less domesticated animals
The nature centre at the Asinerie, bears the label of ‘Rural Centre of Excellence’ and is committed to the mission of enhancing the value of different equine species from the Poitou region by assigning them active roles, such as leisure, riding, harnessing them for transportation or agricultural traction. This enrichment begins with training and breaking-in the donkeys, horses and mules, by professional trainers at the Asinerie. After this initial training period, some animals are kept on the site to participate in the activities available on-site, while others are sold. The Centre staff also provide specialised activities on the site as well as attending shows, competitions and events at other venues to contribute more fully in the promotion of the different species.
The breeding programme
Until the end of the nineteenth century, mule-breeding was one of the leading economic assets of the Poitou region. These sterile yet remarkable animals are the result of interbreeding the Baudet du Poitou donkey with female draught horses of the Trait Poitevin Mulassier variety.
The mechanisation of agriculture and the army during the twentieth century largely reduced the use of traction animals, which caused the decline of equine breeding. By the end of the 1970s, the population of the Baudet du Poitou and the Trait Poitevin Mulassier had fallen dramatically. The alarm was raised after a census in 1977 by Annick Audiot which counted just 44 Baudet du Poitou donkeys.
Since then, a conservation program has been implemented to safeguard the Baudet du Poitou donkey by ensuring both its reproduction and genetic identity.
In the spirit of safeguarding the conservation of these local equine breeds, the Asinerie du Baudet du Poitou Nature Centre provides donkey breeders with reproductive facilities during the breeding season.