Donkey milk beauty products from The Donkey Dairy Farm Picture: Phillip van Niekerk.
As a child, I only knew and consumed two kinds of milk - full cream and skimmed milk and they both came from a cow.
  
Milk has evolved since then with the rise of soy, almond, coconut and even insect milk, s o it’s only fair that donkey milk gets its spot on the podium of dairy alternatives.
 
Donkey milk (or ass milk -  who would have guessed) is said to be the next big thing and those who have had it swear by it.
 
While it may still be a fairly new trend in South Africa, donkeys milk has been used and consumed around the world for donkey's years.
  
It’s said that Cleopatra, the queen of ancient Egypt, would regularly take a bath in donkey milk to keep her skin soft and beautiful, so i f you’ve been taking milk baths and your skin is still a little ashy, chances are you've been using the wrong milk.  

More recently donkey milk has become very popular in other parts of the world, specifically in Europe where the milk has already been used to produce chocolate and even the worlds most expensive cheese.

Foodbev.com reports that Swiss chocolate maker, Fornerod has teamed up with Eurolactics, a company that sells donkey milk, to make the first ever donkey milk chocolate bar.  The website reports that the idea for the chocolate came about when the chocolate maker wanted to present it to the Pope when he visited Rome. 
 
The chocolate is said to be suitable for people who are allergic to cows milk and has a longer shelf life.

Meanwhile, in Serbia, you can sink your teeth into the world's expensive cheese made with donkeys milk. 

According to Forbes.com the cheese, known as Pule, costs around $600 per pound (approximately R8 300 for 450g) is made from the milk of a Balkan donkey, native only to Serbia and Montenegro, and requires 25 litres of milk to produce just one kilogram.

The Telegraph reports that Serbian tennis champion, Novak Djokovic has bought up an annual supply of donkey cheese for his chain of restaurants. 

While other dairy producers are getting a kick out of all the uses for donkey milk, local donkey milk farmer, Jesse Christelis says it’s only a matter of time before South Africa catches up.
 
The co-owner of The Donkey Dairy, the first donkey dairy farm in South Africa, says the milk “highly palatable” with a natural sweetness. 

“It has a really nice taste,” Christelis says. 

“It's very low in fat. It's like skim milk but it's high in lactose so it has a sweet taste.  It tastes like coconut milk, with an almond after taste.”

In terms of the health benefits, Christelis says there are many. 

“We did our research and found in Europe there is quite a big move towards the health benefits of the milk.  The milk has a natural antihistamine and a natural antibiotic.

 
The Donkey Dairy Farm, which is home to 92 rescue donkeys, produces all-natural beauty products made with donkeys milk.
 
“We’re still quite small and a niche market but I think it’s a matter of time and then there’ll be a couple more (farms) popping up.  People are realising how incredible the milk is and its health benefits,” Christelis adds.

Suddenly the Afrikaans song Die donkie is ‘n wonderlike ding, takes on a whole new meaning...