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A small Oklahoma donkey dairy is milking health benefits from an unexpected source.
By Karlie Ybarra
Published March/April 2018
George Washington helped establish the American Mammoth stock in the U.S. with a jack gifted by King Charles III of Spain. Photo by LORI DUCKWORTH
Three years ago, Saundra and Walt Traywick’s daughter was dealing with a common childhood illness. But suddenly, what seemed to be a typical case of strep throat turned into something much worse.
“The bacteria crossed the blood-brain barrier,” Saundra says. “Overnight, she became a different person.”
The little girl had developed Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, or PANDAS, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the brain. The ailment presents symptoms like irritability, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety. The six-year-old had become terrified of saying something that was not 100 percent true, even if it was unintentional.
“She started compulsively saying ‘maybe’ after everything she said,” Saundra says. “Like, ‘Maybe I’m tired.’”
Something had to be done, but treatments for PANDAS are limited.
“The doctors’ best guess was that she would have to be on antibiotics every day for many years or take IVIG treatments, which required hospitalization and were very expensive,” Saundra says.
Not satisfied with those answers, the Traywicks started researching alternatives. Soon, Saundra heard about donkey milk through a naturopath. They decided to give it a try.
“For three months, because of her anxiety, she hadn’t been able to say, ‘I love you’ to her dad and her grandma like she always had before she’d gotten sick,” Saundra says. “Within twenty-four hours of drinking donkey milk, she said, ‘I love you, Daddy’ and called my mom to say, ‘I love you, Grandma.’”
The Traywicks had found a potential solution to their daughter’s problem, but they faced challenges getting milk. So, at the end of 2014, the Traywicks bought some land east of Oklahoma City and three American Mammoth donkeys. Though the Traywicks closely watch everything they put into their bodies, they largely attribute their daughter’s recovery to the healing power of donkey milk.
“Studies I read say it has sixty times the vitamin C of cow milk,” Saundra says. “It is immune modulating, so it helps your immune system determine what is actually bad and good. It’s high in lysozymes and lactoferrin, which act like natural antibiotics, and it has lots of probiotics to help promote good bacteria in your gut.”
Spreading the word about the health benefits of donkey milk is a big part of Saundra’s mission—as is helping other parents who face the same challenges she did.
“Saundra posted on a Facebook group about PANDAS that she would give a jar of milk free to any parent of a child with PANDAS, so we planned a trip to Oklahoma,” says Tami, a Dallas resident.
Within five hours, Tami says she had seen an impact in her daughter’s obsessive-compulsive behavior, and within seven days, there were even more remarkable results, prompting multiple trips back to Oklahoma.
“My daughter is in fifth grade,” she says. “Since having a PANDAS flare, she had been reading at the pre-K or kindergarten level. After a week of being on donkey milk, she was back up to a sixth grade reading level like she had been before.”
The health benefits of donkey milk aren’t limited to the internal. In early 2015, Saundra started her Dulce de Donké skincare line. Her natural soaps, moisturizer, deodorants, and hair care—all of which have earned rave reviews— are made with donkey milk, essential oils, and other gentle ingredients. But for the Traywicks, children’s health always comes first.
“If there’s a sick child who needs some donkey milk, we’ll sell it to their families before we make more skincare,” Saundra says.
Since the Traywicks’ donkeys produce only between one and six cups of milk per day, there’s a lot of work that goes into—and not much money that comes from—a donkey dairy. But the Traywicks and families like them are thankful for every last drop.
For information about buying donkey milk and Dulce de Donké products, visit dulcededonke.com.