Wednesday, April 24, 2024

New market for Red deer farmers?

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Researchers at Otago and Lincoln University may have uncovered a lucrative new market for deer farmers. Farmed Red deer milk has been found to contain high levels of bioactive compounds, minerals and proteins associated with increased immune system health in humans.
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It has even been turned into cheese, after lead researcher Dr Alaa El-Din Ahmed Bekhit discovered reports on the internet of donkey cheese selling for $1800 a kilogram.

Otago University’s Dr Bekhit said initial estimates suggested the milk alone could sell for up to $100 a litre.

The research has been under way for five years, and was prompted by Dr Bekhit’s earlier work on deer meat during the 2004 downturn in prices.

“The fluctuation in prices put some people off farming deer.

“With this we can add lots of value in alternative incomes for deer farmers.”

Dr Bekhit said he thought the biggest problem the researchers would face was extracting the milk from the deer.

“I thought the biggest problem would be that deer aren’t tame. But I was talking to a farmer in Central Otago who said he is milking 120 hinds.

“Talking to some of the people who were involved in the deer industry early on, they said if deer are left out on a mountain they don’t like to be handled, but that can be easily overcome by a change in animal handling which can bring on more stability.”

Researchers at Lincoln University managed to extract the milk, which was processed at Whitestone Cheese.

The Red deer cheese will be matured for six months before being auctioned, with profits to go to the Cancer Society.

Dr Bekhit said the next step was moving out of the test tubes and into real life by finding ways to milk deer, and seeing how the products fared in the market.

“We are really looking forward to hearing from anybody who is interested in taking this work forward.

“We scientists often don’t have the business capability needed to do that, but we would love to see this as a value-added New Zealand product.”

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