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Sheep's milk goes down a treat at Field Days

Newshub logoNewshub 14/06/2017 Shannon Redstall

The hunt is on for farmers willing to broaden their horizons. Forget cattle farming, forget milking cows, milking sheep is set to be the next big thing.

AgResearch has set up a stand at Fieldays to try and entice farmers to get started in the ewe-milking business which is set to boom in the near future. 

The "Milk Baa" has a range of "sheep shakes" available, ranging from standards sheep's milk through to banana, chocolate and vanilla flavours.

Newshub hit the paddocks of Fieldays to see just what Kiwis thought of the product. It has proven to be a hit with some of the staunchest dairy farmers but some kids thought it was better to stick to cows' milk.

There are currently around 30,000 sheep that are milked by 16 different producers to produce all types of products, including milks, cheeses, milk powder and a range of health supplements.

It is not yet known exactly what makes the best sheep's milk researchers are currently working to determine how different types of feed for the sheep affect the milk and its fat composition but New Zealand is already a world leader in sheep's milk production because we raise a different breed of sheep to the rest of the world, with NZ's main breed being East Friesian.

"Sheep milk might still seem a novelty to many in New Zealand, but its qualities are well-recognised around the world, and it is a sought after commodity with room for growth in New Zealand," says AgResearch scientist Linda Samuelsson.

"Research is showing us that sheep milk can offer plenty of benefits when it comes to peoples' digestion and general health."

While some of the product stays in New Zealand, most is exported overseas, with the biggest customer bases in China and Taiwan.

The Government has recently invested $12.6 million into the industry with the aim of generating annual revenues of between $200 million and $700 million by 2030.

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