For our health, for our land: How this couple’s search for tummy-friendly dairy resulted in a feel-good sheep milk operation

Searching for a solution to a daughter’s dairy intolerance led a Canterbury farming couple to take a closer look at sheep.

Kirwee farmers Tracey and Matt Jones had exhausted the options for helping their toddler with her challenging skin and tummy troubles after a diagnosis of dairy intolerance. As Tracey mixed up a batch of a powdered product she knew her daughter wouldn’t really enjoy, she vowed to look further.

“There must be something better than this,” thought Tracey in frustration at the lack of easily digestible milk. She researched plant and other animal products, seeking something to support gut health, not exacerbate eczema and provide nutrition.

Tracey and Matt Jones with their herd of sheep.

The deeper Tracey dug, the more certain she became that sheep milk was the best dairy option. “People have been milking sheep for thousands of years, but it is relatively new to New Zealand, and it really surprised us how good it tasted.”

Both Tracey and Matt come from sheep farming backgrounds. They quickly moved to import milking genetics for breeding and milking once they saw the human health benefits and realized the sheep also had a better impact on their Canterbury farm.

“We scoured the world for the best milking breeds, brought them to New Zealand and started a sheep milk farm,” says Matt.

So passionate has the Jones family become about sheep’s milk — for people’s health and the health of the Canterbury Plains waterways and soil structures — they want it to become an everyday item available to all New Zealanders through their Sabelle Skin and Body Care range and the newly launched Jones Family Farm cheeses and fresh milk. They are also offering support to farmers moving into milking sheep, with established facilities to handle sheep milk collected from other farms in the South Island.

“This is a milking system that is natural, gentle on the environment and where animal welfare is of utmost importance, and that produces the best, cleanest A2 milk available.”

The first two Jones Family Farm cheeses — Gouda and Havarti — are already making their way into South Island New World stores, with fresh milk and other varieties arriving before Christmas.

For further information, phone 0800 747 645.

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