[23 March/Rural News]

According to Massey University Associate Professor, Craig Prichard, the sheep milk industry has made huge strides over the last four years. The annual Sheep Milking Conference last week attracted 150 people, up from only 16 four years ago according to Mr Prichard. He said the industry has moved from an interesting idea to a serious business with a future. He added that industry confidence had increased and that new genetics to increase milk production were important. He noted people were making careful decisions to engage with the new sector and that even though cow milk prices were high there was still interest. This was an opportunity for diversification. He said there is a lot of ongoing research and that there were good stories coming from the environmental side. Mr Prichard hoped some established cheese makers would also get involved.