Milking a cow and milking a sheep are two very different processes says Erik Crespo.
"The animal's body size is different, the lactation and the way we milk them is totally different."
DeLaval's System Manager for Sheep and Goats spoke to The Country Early Edition's Rowena Duncum about the prospects for sheep milking becoming a successful industry in New Zealand.
Crespo is based in France where the sheep milk market is much more established, driven by demand for traditional cheese such as Roquefort and Pecorino.
Some of the challenges to building a successful sheep milking industry in New Zealand include genetics and breeding, plus a need for investment and capital, says Crespo.
Crespo believes there is a need for more New Zealand companies to get involved in sheep milk to help build the industry to a viable size. A blueprint to show farmers there is money to be made and to define which products to produce is also essential.
New Zealand's sheep milking sector has the chance to learn from the cow dairy industry's mistakes says Crespo, as the low-margins/high volume Fonterra model will not work for sheep milk.
Crespo says for a shot at success New Zealand's sheep milk sector will need to focus on high-value and high-return products such as cheese and ice cream that generate a good milk price.