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Sheep Milk NZ Management team

Sheep Milk New Zealand open day success

February 8, 2021

Sheep Milk New Zealand held their first open day on Thursday, 4 February at Tuscany Downs, Kirwee with an audience of over 250 people ranging with people from Central Otago to North Canterbury.

Sheep Milk NZ Sheep

The open day brought together industry experts and those interested in learning more about sheep milk products.

Sheep Milk New Zealand is the inspiration of Matt and Tracey Jones who began commercially milking sheep in 2019.  The open day was a result of Matt and Tracey wanting to connect industry people with others interested in sheep milking. 

 “We wanted to get the community together to discuss the opportunities of the industry and provide a forum where people could ask questions,” says Matt Jones.

Questions from the audience related to breeds, getting the best from milking sheep, and understanding the benefits of sheep milk in an international marketplace.  People from as far south as Ranfurly were interested to know if there were options for their milk to be delivered to Sheep Milk New Zealand’s processing plant in Canterbury and were surprised to find out that plans were in place to start transporting milk from Otago.

A big question from those wanting to increase flock sizes, ‘what do we do with our milk?’ 

Mr Jones’ answer was unequivocal, “We are continually working on investment and infrastructure, but Sheep Milk New Zealand needs milk to grow production.”  

Speakers included The Agri Business Group who spoke about the financial costs, management and planning as well as the environmental impact report they are undertaking.  David Waghorn of Hororata spoke of his milking operation, and Keith Neylon formerly of Blue River Dairy spoke of the opportunities in the international markets with New Zealand sheep cheese varieties already winning awards.  

What interested many in the audience was Sheep Milk New Zealand’s Craig Harrison talk on the genetics of a high milk producing hardy sheep fit for New Zealand conditions. Strathclyde Stud are working on such a breed that will be best suited for South Island conditions. 

Sheep Milk New Zealand Group Marketing Manager Virna Smith introduced Sabelle, Sheep Milk New Zealand’s skin and body care range produced using sheep milk and mānuka honey, and the sheep milk gouda and havarti cheeses produced by Jones Family Farm. Jones Family Farm are working on an aged cheddar and a creamy blue to add to their cheese range. 

Open day attendees were treated to samples of sheep milk and cheese produced by Jones Family Farm, as well as Sabelle skin and body care product samples.