This article first appeared in our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.
A new clinical trial testing the nutritional benefits of deer milk has found it improves the muscle mass and physical performance of women over the age of 65.
The study recruited 120 women in that age cohort with a lower to normal Body Mass Index to consume either 200ml of deer milk sourced by Pāmu or a market leading commercial oral nutritional supplement daily for 10 weeks.
The trial was carried out by Pāmu New Zealand in conjunction with Massey University, and with support from the High-Value Nutrition Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge.
Massey University’s lead researchers, professors Marlena Kruger and Pamela von Hurst, say the study showed that deer milk improved nutritional status, muscle mass and physical performance in women aged 65 and above.
“Further observations were that Pāmu deer milk may support bone health in postmenopausal women, by reducing bone breakdown and bone loss over time,” they say.
Pāmu deer milk business lead Hamish Glendinning described deer milk as “concentrated natural nutrition”.
“Deer don’t produce a lot of milk, but what they do produce is really nutritious,” Glendinning says.
The improved muscle strength and bone health from those in the experiment who consumed the deer milk was because of the milk’s protein and its high levels of calcium.
“It’s those two properties – the protein and the calcium – that we believe drove the benefits,” he said.
Pāmu deer milk is sourced through a partnership with Peter and Sharon McIntyre, who run a deer farm near Gore, and through the company’s own farm Aratiatia, north of Taupō.
It has been developing the deer milk business for over five years, selling domestically as well as exporting to several markets across Asia-Pacific.
The study will assist Pāmu in the market as it tries to capitalise on two growing trends: aging populations and people increasingly viewing food as medicine.
“We identified these synergies of where deer milk can play a role in supporting the nutritional status and physical function of aging adults,” Glendinning says.
He sees enormous potential for the product to carve out a defendable position in the aged nutrition space with a natural and unique product offering, at the same time offering increased returns to deer farming in New Zealand.
“With a rapidly ageing population and the health challenges which come with this, we are confident there will be increased demand for clinically proven, natural product solutions.
“This is an exciting innovation, a natural product with concentrated nutrition that we believe will make a difference to those who are wanting to restore mobility and strength as they get older.”
Glendinning said consumers are buying deer milk beyond healthy ageing. Mothers are buying if for their children to help with their physical growth and women buy it for skin and nail health, too.
“There’s benefits outside of this [aged care]. But how big are those markets, how competitive are they, and over the long term, how sustainable are they because we need to ensure that we’re building an industry off a really solid foundation of science.”
Deer milking expansion beyond Pāmu’s two existing farms will be demand led, meaning it grows slowly, over time, rather than converting more farms and then finding a place in the market for the product, he says.