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They Got it Right the First Time….

11 October 2006

I’m aware of the risk of putting up another animal article and having this site turned in the cyber version of the Animal Planet, but….

Small Mexican farmers are finding out that in order to compete, they need to bring back the mule. Tractors aren’t doing the job on all types of farmland.
Exactly what is a mule? They are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. That makes them a hybrid. Except in rare cases, mules (males and females) are sterile and cannot reproduce themselves…. donkeys have 62 chromosomes and and horses have 64. Their offspring end up with 63 chromosomes and therefore cannot be divided evenly.

Mules are thought to be stronger and smarter than donkeys and are somewhat easier to work with. People in third world countries around the world have used them to do the plowing and transporting needed on farms.

When farmers could afford, they’ve been upgrading by purchasing John Deere tractors and replacing their mules, altogether. The problem is that these tractors don’t work well on steep inclines and the cost of gas has risen so much that they aren’t cost effective.

Sara Miller Llana reports in: that project leader, Leonel Gonzales Jauregui, wants a mule breeding center with donkeys from the U.S. The center is located near Tlajomulco, Mexico.“The Precious One”, a male donkey, was donated to the Cofradia Ranch, part of the University of Guadalajara, six months ago. Leonel Gonzalez Jáuregui, executive director of the research ranch, says he wants to create a breeding center that will turn out sturdy mules to help local producers work their fields and remain competitive.

In 2005, six Kentucky Jacks were brought in because they are taller and stronger than their Mexican counterparts. “These are work animals, the American ones,” says Sepulveda. “Not like the Mexican ones.”

There are those here who view the effort to revive the donkey population as regressive. “They see it as going backward,” admits Mr. Patrick Fenton, director of the Kentucky Agricultural and Commercial Trade Office. . “But a burro can be technology.”

The mayor-elect of Tlajomulco, Antonio Tatengo, says donkeys could help the 10 percent of landowners in his municipality with properties too small to necessitate tractors. He is quick to add that most would prefer them, though, over donkeys. “We are very modernized here,” says Mr. Tatengo.

It seems that modern technology isn’t always the best technology. The “Beast of Burden” is making a comeback!

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