Matt and Tracey
Matt and Tracey Jones have deep roots in sheep farming. Tracey grew up on a sheep farm in Methven, while Matt started his career at 16 years old farming in Mid-Canterbury and Otago. What started out as a passion for traditional sheep farming for wool and meat has developed into a business developing hardy milking breeds and a sheep milk business to produce as Matt says, “the best, cleanest A2 milk there is.”
Like all great ventures it started with a problem that needed solving: What is the alternative to cow milk, an alternative that is not plant based and can be given to people with dairy allergies?
When two of Matt and Tracey’s daughters were diagnosed with severe food allergies, including dairy, they began the search for a clean alternative, one they could give to a toddler. “I was mixing up goat milk powder for my daughter when she was only two, and I thought to myself ‘there must be something better than this.’”
The more they researched, the more they understood that sheep milk was the very best alternative, in fact it was no longer an alternative, it was the best dairy option available. From the moment they decided to take the plunge a community evolved. People keen to get on board from Kiwi sheep milkers ready with contacts and advice to international sheep milkers, scientists and vets happy to show them the process and introduce them to the breeds.
Sheep Milk Team
Operations and Genetics
Craig has been involved in the rural services industry his entire working life, having been a livestock representative and auctioneer for 25 years and more recently trading in the arable sector. With this experience, Craig has a broad knowledge of most farming systems in the livestock and arable sector.
Now onboard with Sheep Milk New Zealand, Craig finds this an exciting time. “We know how good the sheep milk product is and with a world focus on nutrition and what people are eating, we are all becoming more aware of what we are putting into our bodies and the effects of food allergies.”
Craig believes consumers are now prepared to spend a little more on the right types of foods as people are living healthier lifestyles and making healthier choices for themselves.
Although sheep milking is not new, sheep have been milked for thousands of years around the world. It is still relatively new in New Zealand and with Sheep Milk New Zealand now establishing in the South Island this brings farmers another option for diversification with good returns and minimal impact on the environment. For these reasons, Craig believes the sheep milking industry is entering some exciting times so watch this space.
When away from work Craig is a race day judge and races harness horses. He plays lawn bowls and is the current president of the Allenton Sports Club. He also likes to do a little fishing when possible.
Cheese Maker/Farm Manager
Juan Cavallotti brings 20 years’ experience in the dairy industry to Sheep Milk NZ. With a university degree in cheese making from Uruguay and the New Zealand National Diploma in Agribusiness, Juan provides hands-on practical experience firmly underpinned with tertiary learning. A combination of the very best of international and local knowledge.
Juan champions his wins through producing an exceptional product which helps to showcase his dedication to hard work. Leaving school his thoughts of moving away from the family’s connection to agriculture and business and into the law were soon replaced when he was introduced through family friends to cheese making, “I realised no one knew how to make cheese anymore and I love working with and looking after animals, it was an exciting idea.”
His love of working with animals and creating artisan products has moved him from Uruguay to a life in New Zealand complete with a Kiwi wife and children. “After working in New Zealand on an exchange with PGG Wrightson, I went back to Uruguay where things were changing. When I was asked to come to New Zealand I didn’t hesitate. Juan jokes about on his return trip to New Zealand he moved into shared accommodation with a Kiwi girl and is still sharing accommodation with her and now their children, today.
Juan’s creative soul is apparent in his personal life. He loves the pleasures of playing music, brewing beer and cooking BBQs for his family and friends. This is his third season at Kirwee Holdings Sheep Dairy Farm, where he is spearheading farm management and working in collaboration with Sheep Milk NZ to deliver a superior sheep dairy product to the market. He brings a wide range of knowledge within the dairy industry, dairy processing and strong work ethics to his work at Sheep Milk New Zealand.