NEW ZEALAND – A surge of enthusiasm for sheep dairying has given rise to questions over whether ewe milk could be a ‘new frontier’ for New Zealand agriculture.
Lively debate at a well-attended North Island sheep dairying conference has shown experts in the field that things could be set to move quickly in what is an embryonic industry.
There are currently ‘just a handful’ of ewe milk producers, according to sheep milk expert, Dr Linda Samuelsson.
The AgResearch New Zealand scientist said turnout at a recent conference in Palmerston North exceeded expectations.
“More importantly there was a strong feeling of ‘let’s get this right from the start and make it succeed this time’ because there have been a few failed attempts in the past,” she said.
“It was also a very useful exercise for AgResearch as well because we were able to showcase AgResearch and our science collaborators’ capability in sheep dairying.”
Dr Samuelsson is working to create greater value from milk by increasing knowledge on composition, driving yields and establishing criteria for sustainable production.
By increasing volume and value from ewe milk, AgResearch says more will be attracted to the industry, boosting further growth.
Two areas are in need of improvement – nutrition and genetics, according to Kevin Argyle, also of AgResearch New Zealand.
“There are a number of areas of research that aren’t currently in the MBIE programme,” said Mr Argyle. “Improving the sheep genetics is one such area and that is something that we’re exploring at the moment.”
TheCattleSite News Desk