How to Hand Milk a Jenny

Discover how to hand milk a jenny, and build a lucrative side business selling milk as a beverage or ingredient with this guide.

| April 2019

Photo by Elayne Sears

Putting It All to Use

If you’re seeking an unusual and lucrative way to make money with donkeys, consider niche-marketing donkey milk as a beverage or as an ingredient in specialty soaps and skin conditioners.

Before marketing donkey milk as a beverage, investigate your state’s dairy regulations in detail. Ask your County Extension agent which agency oversees dairy operations in your state; regulations vary widely from state to state.

Keep in mind that jennies don’t give a lot of milk per milking, so they must be milked more frequently than cows or goats. Most European donkey dairies milk three times a day. Also, some jennies refuse to let down their milk unless their foals are present, so you may have to share with her baby. To do this, pen the foal separately but within sight of his dam overnight, and milk Mama first thing in the morning; however, be sure that the foal is readily consuming his own feed of hay and grain before you begin milking his dam. The average Standard-size jenny gives one pint to two quarts of milk per day.

How-To Hand Milk a Jenny

Milking a jenny is like milking a goat except that her teats are smaller and harder to reach. Some jennies initially (and vigorously) object to being milked, but if you persist (clicker training or treats for good behavior win most jennies’ cooperation), most adapt to the process surprisingly quickly.

Hand milking is a team effort between a milker and the creature that he milks. When the milker preps his animal by washing her udder, the hypothalamus in her brain signals her posterior pituitary gland to release oxytocin into her bloodstream, causing tiny muscles around those milk-holding alveoli to contract. In other words, she “lets down her milk.” Milk letdown usually lasts for five to eight minutes, and milking should be completed during that time.

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