Strong interest in sheep switch

Lain Jager was among the speakers at the open day last weekend

More than 500 visitors attended Spring Sheep Milk Company’s open day at its Tauwhare Road farm this month.

The day was designed to give the public and prospective sheep milk farmers an insight into the rising dairy sheep industry and a taste of sheep milk coffee.

They saw how Spring Sheep’s pasture-based farm model of converting dairy cow farms to dairy sheep was delivering growing returns for farmers.

Chief Operating Officer Nick Hammond and General Manager – Milk Supply Thomas Macdonald explained how Spring Sheep was entering the scale-up phase by growing supply and demand, and introducing its Zealandia dairy sheep breeding line to operations.

“Sheep milking represents an exciting opportunity to reduce environmental impact while creating an economically viable farming model,” Nick Hammond said.

That point was supported by Spring Sheep’s supplier farmers who, together in a panel discussion, shared their experiences milking sheep.

Milking time

Among them were Rhys Darby – whose dairy cow farm has seen the addition of dairy sheep – and Matthew and Katherine Spataro – who have recently converted their Te Awamutu family farm from cow to sheep dairy.

Spring Sheep hopes those stories will inspire other farmers to come on board as a supplier.

Nick Hammond said they were looking to expand from seven farms to 11 next season. He said limited availability was a strategic move to ensure a sustainable business.

Following Zespri’s Kiwifruit model, Spring Sheep is focused on creating demand from multiple customer bases before adding supplier farms.

“Sheep milking represents an exciting opportunity to reduce environmental impact while creating an economically viable farming model,” Nick Hammond said.

The chairman of the New Zealand Primary Sector Council and Former Zespri chief executive Lain Jager, and Alibaba Country Manager, New Zealand, Pier Smulders joined the presentations to share how Spring Sheep was positioned to take New Zealand sheep milk to the world.

Following the formalities, it was the sheep who stole the show as the milking parlour opened for farm manager Felicity Cameron to demonstrate how eager her 800 ewes were to be milked.

 

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