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December 15, 2018

Donkey meat more nutritious than chicken - Vets

You have probably already consumed donkey meat from your local butcher or nyama choma joint.

Well, health officials say you need not have sleepless nights if the animal was slaughtered properly and the meat inspected.

Donkey meat contains more proteins than chicken and vital amino acids that your body needs, vets and health officials say.

Last week, the department of livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture announced it is preparing a donkey policy for proper consumption of the nutritious meat.

Salim Abdillahi, a veterinary officer from the department, says donkey meat is as good as beef or mutton if the animal is slaughtered properly.

Salim however says there is currently no donkey slaughter house in Kenya.

“The meat from a donkey is as good as any other provided it has been slaughtered in a recommended way. Donkey's milk is used in some of the developed countries. We will have a donkey policy in place because you should eat the meat knowingly and willingly,” Salim said.

He rubbishes claims that a donkey abbatoir has been put up in Naivasha, saying certain conditions must be met.

There are currently more than 40 million donkeys in the world with 1.8 million of them in Kenya, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. China has the most with 11 million donkeys.

The ministry says once the policy is finalised, Kenyans should prepare to have donkey burgers, donkey hot sandwiches, sausages and donkey milk tea among other delicacies.

Such cuisine is already popular in China where donkey meat is popularly used to stuff spicy and delicious sandwiches.

In 2011, China slaughtered 2.4 million donkeys, according to country's livestock industry yearbook.

Dr Julius Kariuki, a veterinary officer in Nairobi, says donkeys can contribute to Kenya's economic growth and wellbeing of citizens.

“People should change their attitudes towards a donkey. They should not harass the donkey. We have formed donkey clubs in schools to enable children play a central role in changing such attitudes,” he says.

Dr Kariuki explains that the policy will require donkey meat to be coded in butcheries once the animal has been slaughtered properly and the meat inspected.

He confirms Salim's assertion that no donkey slaughterhouse has been put up in Naivasha, saying the specifications they found showed that it was a cattle slaughterhouse.

The two spoke to the Star last week during the national day for donkey at Muhuri Muchiri stadium in Ruai near Nairobi.

Nutritionists present said donkey meat tastes best when slow-cooked. In China, for instance, donkey meat is cooked for eight to 24 hours to make it tasty.

Slow cooking is believed to not only add flavour to the meat but also help in retaining the colour and tenderness.

Donkey meat has the highest amount of proteins compared to mutton, pork, beef and chicken.

The meat also provides the body with essential and non-essential amino acids.

These proteins are helpful for proper growth and functioning of the body. The iron, calcium and phosphorus content of donkey meat is also high, according to medical reports.

“We need to give a donkey the respect it deserves. It is a livestock like any other. The national government has a role of making laws that will be domesticated by county governments,” says Dr Kariuki.

He explains the new guidelines will ensure donkeys are respected. 

“Donkeys have contributed a lot to this country economically as well as in provision of livelihoods to Kenyans who rely on their services. They need to be protected just like other livestock,” he adds.

Salim, on his part, said donkeys are now being stolen like never before because the society has discovered their health and economic benefits.

“Donkey plays a central role in turning around the economy of this nation. It is a livestock like any other and in the near future, a legal framework on donkeys will be developed,” he said.

During the national donkey day last week, several animals were examined and treated for various diseases for free.

The event was funded by Brooke East Africa’s Heshimu Punda project, which is implemented by the Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies.

More than 200 donkeys were de-wormed and their hooves trimmed.

National Donkey Welfare Day recognises donkey's contribution to the national and rural economy.

In developed countries, a small number of donkeys are kept as pets while in developing countries they are mostly used to work in farms.

Donkey meat is said to have been first consumed in Hubei Province in China 300 years ago when Prince Zhu Di of Ming dynasty fought a war against the then emperor which he lost and his army faced a shortage of food.

His men served him the bread rolls stuffed with horse meat.

Bread rolls slowly gained popularity but due to the increased price of horse meat, donkey meat was used for stuffing.



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