Government owned farmer Landcorp is entering the sheep milking business with its farm Reporoa. 3,000 ewes will provide the raw material for producing branded milk powder and ice cream, especially for Asian markets.
Landcorp is working to orient its products towards a niche clientele and more highly selected consumer markets. Most of the sheep milk is produced on a 4,000 hectare farm in the Spring Sheep Diary (SSD) which has a joint venture with the agribusiness investment company SLC. The sheep are milked at Blue River‘s large complex at Springhills in Southlands.
SSD chief executive Scottie Chapman said the long-term goal was to export sheep milk products to Asian consumers. The Reporoa farm will produce about one million litres of milk and will become the sixth producer in New Zealand.
The decision to return to sheep milk was made after sounding out possible alternatives to sheep farming, such as collagen and nutraceuticals. For Chapman, Taiwan and Korea are mature markets which appreciate quality, including New Zealand food, and continue to have a long-standing partnership with New Zealand.
The majority of the sheep (three quarters to be precise) are East Friesian. During its five-year plan the operation will be extended to another farm near the Reporoa operation.
Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden said that there was every reason for the company to s쳮d in creating a thriving sheep milk business thanks to its considerable experience farming sheep and the genetics of the sheep used, as well as the fact that it has the biggest dairy cow herd in the country and a network of innovative farms throughout New Zealand.