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A Mary donkey in the desert.Also Known As: Maryiskaya, Merv


Mary and Ashkhabad regions of Turkmenia breed the Mary breed of large donkeys. The height of individual specimens reach 130-142 cm. Their origin and economic features are similar to the Iranian Hamadan whose descendants can also be encountered in Azerbaijan. In regions where Mary donkeys are bred large typical specimens (male height at withers 119-120 cm, female 116-118 cm) coexist with smaller ones, hardly different from the Uzbek variety.


A white Mary donkey standing on a hill.The hybridization experiments of the National Horse Breeding Research Institute involved these animals and heavy draft mares to produced draft-pack and pack-transport mules. The latter type (out of dams of the Lokai breed) were successfully tested in Tajikistan. Along a difficult 90-km route up to an altitude of 3,000 m the speed of the animals was 6.3 km per hour. Practical mule breeding showed that the pack mule should not be very large, as in the mountains balance and efficient movement are of the utmost importance. A short pace reduces the swinging of the pack and provides for a steady movement on poor paths. In the Nagorny Karabakh autonomous regions of the Azerbaijan, mules with a live weight of nearly 300 kg carry packs of 70-125 kg.


The Mary breed occupy a rather limited area and comprises of discrete "island" populations of diminishing number. The stock is declining due to low profitability of donkey breeding and the related mule production. Expeditions and mountain rescue parties require only a small number of animals.




Dmitriez, N.G. and Ernst, L.K. (1989) Animal Genetic Resources of the USSR. Animal Production and Health Paper Publ. by FAO, Rome, 517 pp.


Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieities. Fourth Edition. C.A.B. International. 273 pp.

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