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New Zealand: Rare
Importation: 19th Century

English/Irish Donkeys

A Rare Breed of British Origin

Donkey ride, Sumner Beach, Christchurch (Courtesy Rangiora Museum)
Donkey ride, Sumner Beach, Christchurch, circa 1900
(Photo courtesy Rangiora Museum)

      Historically, the donkey was never used extensively in Britain – except in Ireland, where it became the principal draught animal for cottagers and smallholders throughout the country.

      Eggs and butter, which were the chief produce of the widespread small farms, were brought to market weekly by a patient donkey harnessed to a small cart, usually driven by the farmer's wife.

Irish donkey with twin foals – Ivan Taylor's Chadwell Stud (Trotter/McCulloch photo)
Irish donkey with twin foals – Ivan Taylor’s Chadwell Stud   (Trotter/McCulloch photo)

      While some breeders refer to their donkeys as “Irish” and others as “English”, they are essentially the same breed and are grouped as English/Irish by the Donkey Society of New Zealand.

      Over the last few decades, a number of these small donkeys have been imported into New Zealand, and they are now firmly established and are being bred in a number of studs. Pure English/Irish donkeys are no more than 11 hands (44 inches or 111.76 centimetres) in height, and are often referred to as “Miniatures.”   They come in a variety of colours.

      The breed is today probably the most sought-after donkey in this country.

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