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Breeding sheep for a new industry; dairy sheep in NZ

Genetic improvement is permanent and cumulative. It is on this foundation that the MauiMilk Dairy Sheep breeding programme is founded.

Jake Chardon, Geneticist, MauiMilk Breeding Programme

  • Sheep milk in NZ is an interesting option because it offers diversification, a high value product, stable farm-gate price, and it is environmentally sustainable; there is already NZ sheep farming experience and expertise in pastoral dairy systems as well as in dairy processing.
  • Sheep milk products are attractive to consumers because they are suitable for bovine intolerant consumers, have A2 beta casein, high mineral, Omega 3 and a creamy taste. MauiMilk also provide the NZ label (provenance), pasture based, free range (animal welfare) and environmental sustainability.
  • Waikino Station was founded to encourage new conversions and develop genetics and farm systems to enable profitability. It also serves as a demo farm and promotional tool
  • Breeding of Southern CrossTM out of multiple breeds to provide genetic diversity and hybrid vigour. East Frisian: Europe’s high milk volume, Awassi: hardy sheep from Middle East and Lacaune from France, famous for Riquefort cheese and a large scientific breeding program.
  • Interaction of Southern CrossTM and Lacaune breeding to mutual benefit: Lacaune have been very successful with their breeding program in France but are restricted to certain farm practices that can however be tested in NZ.
  • Advanced technology in recording, data collection and reproduction are applied.
  • Access to modern dairy sheep genetics in NZ: Until now it was impossible to breed a modern dairy ewe in NZ. Breeding dairy ewes is now the easiest and cheapest part of the conversion process. Southern CrossTM r rams are now available to farmers.

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