It’s a start-up, and the company keeps 16 mares and two stallions at its farm in northern Italy.
The company is the first of its kind in Italy, although mares’ milk is sold in other countries.
The product also poses an interesting question for vegans. Because the horses are not separated from their foals, and none of the animals are killed when production diminishes, founder of the company, veterinarian Dr Tatjana Falconi, told DairyReporter she considers the milk would be suitable for those vegans and vegetarians that draw the line at products derived from animals that are killed.
Falconi said there are many health benefits for mares’ milk, and the company’s attendance at the Cibus food event in Italy recently was to increase awareness of the product, and its properties, in the region.
Horse milk has a high content of enzymes such as lactoferrin, lysozyme and others with antibacterial stimulation of the immune system, Falconi said.
Compared to cow's milk, it has a high lactose content; and it is low in fat (about 1%). These are for the most part made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
While the milk is expensive, there’s no chance of mare cheese, Falconi explained, because of the lack of caseins in the milk, however she said that in addition to milk, it can be made into a sweet ice cream.
The non-pasteurized milk is sold in 250ml bottles, and can be bought online at the company’s website (in Italian only). Equimilk mare milk is supplied frozen at -20°C and has a shelf life of 12 months from the date of production, if stored properly in the freezer.
The milk is thawed in a water bath at a maximum temperature of 37°C so it does not lose its organoleptic characteristics.