I love donkeys. There’s something about their diminutive stature, their huge, liquid eyes, their long faces, their big, fuzzy ears…Every donkey I meet turns me into a squealing little girl. Donkeys are so charming and adorable, they actually destroy me.
And donkey babies? Forget about it.
When I found out there is a donkey farm — a Donkey Dairy, in fact, producing actual donkey milk — less than 90 minutes from Joburg in nearby Magaliesburg, I knew I had to go as soon as possible. I didn’t want to go for just a day trip, either; I needed to spend some quality time with the donkeys. And while the Donkey Dairy does have a cottage for rent on Airbnb, it is extremely popular and hard to book.
Fortunately my dear friend Dee is a dear friend of Zak and Jesse, who run the Donkey Dairy. While Dee was visiting Zak at the Dairy a few weeks ago, she notified me of an Airbnb cancellation and invited me to come stay on short notice. She didn’t have to tell me twice; I cleared my schedule immediately.
A few days later I was communing with the donkeys — and the alpacas, horses, miniature goats, pigs, cows, rabbits, and a variety of other farm animals, both miniature and normal-sized — at the Donkey Dairy.
How to Visit the Donkey Dairy
Before I deluge you with more cute animal pictures, here’s some background on the Dairy and how to visit it.
The Donkey Dairy is a working farm run by Jesse Christelis and Zak Hendrikz, who started farming a few years ago. (Both Zak and Jesse started out as actors. Zak is a still a working actor while Jesse now focuses 100% on farming.) Producing donkey milk is a fascinating and labor-intensive process. Unlike dairy cows, female donkeys (called jennies) will not produce milk if they are separated from their foals, and in fact a jenny’s foal must be physically present while she is milked. I won’t go into more detail but there is a lot of information about the milking process on the Donkey Dairy website.
The Donkey Dairy sells its milk, which has many significant health benefits, as well as donkey milk products like soap and face cream. The Dairy also sells animals, including rabbits, chickens, and miniature goats, which apparently make great pets. Visitors can stay overnight at the Dairy’s cottage, as previously mentioned, and the farm is open to day visitors (R60 per person and free for children under two) on weekends — a fantastic outing for both children and adults. The farm has two short hiking trails and a nice gift shop selling all things donkey and goat. There isn’t a restaurant or café at the Dairy, but the shop sells snacks and you can bring your own picnic.
I really, really liked the Donkey Dairy, as you can tell, and one night there was not enough to get a feel for everything that was going on. Jesse was away on the night I visited and I didn’t have enough time to speak to Zak, who was insanely busy. But I think the two of them have fascinating stories to tell and I need to go back to hear them all.
I also need to take at least 5000 more donkey/goat/cow/alpaca pictures.
The Donkey Dairy is in North West province, just over the border of Gauteng province, not far from Mountain Sanctuary Park. Booking is essential to visit the farm. It’s impossible to find via GPS so please call ahead for directions and other details: +27-82-853-1606 or +27-72-262-5369. The Dairy is on a dirt road — I drove there fairly easily in my tiny Hyundai.