27. Horse and Donkey Milk

  1. Young W. Park Ph.D. Professor of Food Science4,5 and
  2. George F.W. Haenlein D.Sci.Ag., Ph.D. Professor Emeritus6
  1. Elisabetta Salimei1,* and
  2. Francesco Fantuz2,*

Published Online: 11 APR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118534168.ch27

Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition: Production, Composition and Health

Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition: Production, Composition and Health

How to Cite

Salimei, E. and Fantuz, F. (2013) Horse and Donkey Milk, in Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition: Production, Composition and Health (eds Y. W. Park and G. F.W. Haenlein), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118534168.ch27

Editor Information

  1. 4

    Georgia Small Ruminant Research and Extension Center Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia, USA

  2. 5

    Adjunct Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA

  3. 6

    Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Sciences, Università del Molise, Campobasso, Italy

  2. 2

    Department of Environmental Sciences, Università di Camerino, Camerino, Italy

*Email: salimei@unimol.it

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 APR 2013
  2. Published Print: 3 JUN 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470674185

Online ISBN: 9781118534168



  • horse;
  • donkey;
  • raw milk;
  • fermented milk;
  • cow milk protein allergy;
  • hypoallergenicity;
  • bioactive compounds;
  • pediatric nutrition;
  • geriatric nutrition;
  • milk hygiene


Horse and donkey populations are widely distributed around the world and have been known as dairy species since ancient times. Nowadays, equid milk is carving a niche as an alternative food source for infants with cow milk allergy as well as for aged consumers, thanks to its unique components. Differences in milk components between dairy species describe the closer resemblance of equid milk to human milk even though the remarkably low fat content results in a low energy content of horse and donkey milk. Compared to cow milk, equid milk contains average higher concentrations of Fe but lower concentrations of Zn and Mn. Among the allergenic components, caseins occur in different proportions in milk from different species, i.e. αs1-casein has the highest percentage in cow milk while β-casein is the most represented in horse, goat and human milk. The horse casein micellar size is on average higher than human (64 nm) and cow milk (182 nm). β-Lactoglobulin (absent in human milk) is the most represented whey protein in both equid (30%) and cow (50%) milk. Advances in knowledge of equid milk production for sensitive consumers are reviewed with regard to both nutrients and bioactive compounds, either endogenous or generated during the digestion process or fermentation. Besides biotechnological processes into koumiss and other fermented horse and donkey products, the primary production of milk from these monogastric species could be managed to differentiate the nutritional and functional values of the milk product for different categories of sensitive consumers.