According to research conducted by the University of Auckland and Liggins Institute, it has been officially confirmed that New Zealand sheep milk surpasses cow milk in terms of health benefits.
Dr Amber Milan, a prominent figure in the study, said that human trials were conducted for the first time, with ewes' milk emerging as the clear winner.
In the study, 30 women participated in a glass-for-glass comparison of sheep milk and cow's milk digestion.
"We looked at the amounts of protein and fats that were available in their circulation after a glass, and what we found was the higher amounts of protein showed up, and fatty acids as well in sheep's milk," Dr Milan said.
The research revealed that sheep milk contains higher amounts of proteins, particularly essential amino acids that aid in muscle building. Additionally, sheep milk boasts an array of other nutrients such as calcium and potassium.
Notably, the higher level of minerals in sheep milk allows for quicker digestion in humans compared to cow milk, making it an excellent and efficient source of energy.
The higher level of total solids in sheep milk allows for more cheese production per volume compared to cow milk, reducing waste and enhancing overall productivity. This is a significant advantage for the sheep milk industry.
Dr Milan highlighted the unique factors that contribute to the superiority of New Zealand sheep milk. Ewes in New Zealand graze on lush pastures and are raised in a favourable climate that results in top-quality milk.
These qualities have made New Zealand sheep milk appealing to overseas markets, with successful exports to Australia and China already underway.
As a result of these promising findings, Dr Milan expressed enthusiasm for the potential growth of the sheep milk industry.
"There are opportunities to process it further and adapt it to make the sheep milk industry even more productive. It's an exciting area for growth."
The higher nutrient content, efficient digestion, and suitability for cheese production make sheep milk an appealing and promising industry for New Zealand's agricultural sector.