Government supports innovative dairy sheep sector to scale up

The Government is boosting its partnership with New Zealand’s dairy sheep sector to help it lift its value and volume, and become an established primary industry, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF) fund will contribute $7.97 million to a $19.94 million developmental programme led by Spring Sheep Co.

The investment is a measure of Government backing for ‘Scale Up’, a new five-year partnership programme with Spring Sheep Milk Co. designed to take the dairy sheep industry from the piloting phase through to an established primary industry. Continue reading

Benefits of sheep milk to be tested in ground-breaking trial

AgResearch is about to begin a clinical trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human digestion.

The trial, believed to be a world first, will involve AgResearch scientists working alongside those at the Auckland University’s Liggins Institute, with support from Spring Sheep Milk Co. and Blue River Dairy. It coincides with a period of rapid growth for the dairy sheep industry in New Zealand.

Some people suffer from digestive issues with milk and work to date by AgResearch has demonstrated sheep milk could offer advantages for some in terms of easier digestion and improved nutrition.

“Based on the literature we have seen, there has been no human clinical trial like this before measuring the digestibility of sheep milk,” says AgResearch senior scientist Dr Linda Samuelsson.

“We will be working with people who say they have some difficulty digesting milk. They will be asked to consume a specified amount, and we’ll be looking at how they feel after drinking, and measuring their digestion using blood and breath tests.”

Andrea Wilkins, Marketing and Innovation Director at Spring Sheep Milk Co. says one recent study compared the protein digestibility of sheep and cow milk – with results suggesting sheep milk proteins are more readily digested and are a better source of essential amino acids.

“Taking into account the research to date along with consumer feedback we’ve received, we know that sheep’s milk is great for those who are sensitive to cow’s milk. So, we’re really excited about what this clinical trial means for us and for the New Zealand sheep milk industry as a whole.”

Liggins Institute Research Fellow Dr Amber Milan says the trial subjects will be asked to drink both sheep and cow milk.

“Sheep milk is very different from cow milk. We know that it has more nutrients per glass: more protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. For example, sheep milk has almost twice the level of calcium and zinc, when compared to cow milk. There are also differences in the protein and fat types which we think will alter the digestive properties of sheep milk.”

Dr Samuelsson says the trial is expected to start in July and results should be available early next year.

“The aim is to provide information for consumers who may struggle with their digestion, and to provide solid evidence of the benefits of sheep milk to support New Zealand exports.”

New Zealand now has a flock of more than 20,000 sheep for milking at 16 different producers. Significant new investment is going into milk processing and supply to overseas markets.

Sheep milk products from New Zealand are being exported to growth markets such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Gareth Lyness, Marketing and Supply Chain Manager at Blue River Dairy says:

“There is already a latent awareness of the benefits of sheep milk. Asian consumers express these benefits in terms of how much ‘heat’ the milk brings to our bodies; Sheep milk is understood to ‘create less inner heat’ than other milks, meaning it is gentler on the digestive system.”

For more information on the clinical trial, visit HERE

Source: AgResearch

Approval of PGP programme gives a boost to the sheep milk industry

New Zealand’s fledgling sheep milk industry has been given a significant boost today with approval of the business case for a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Spring Sheep Milk Co.  The new ‘Sheep – Horizon Three’ PGP programme aims to develop a market driven, end-to-end value chain generating annual revenues of between $200 million and $700 million by 2030.

The ministry invests in cutting-edge innovation programmes through the PGP in partnership with industry.

It will be investing $12.56 million (40 per cent) into the new programme; Spring Sheep Milk Co will invest $18.83m, representing a total investment of $31.39m over its six-year life.

Spring Sheep Milk Co is a 50/50 partnership between Landcorp and a number of New Zealand investors through SLC Ventures LP.

Its co chief executive Scottie Chapman says with PGP support, sheep milk represents a unique opportunity for New Zealand to build a high-value sheep milk industry.

Continue reading