Re­search may lead to new goat milk mar­ket

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

More peo­ple around the world drink goat milk than milk from any other an­i­mal and 98 per cent of New Zealand’s goat milk pro­duc­tion goes off­shore – mostly in the form of milk powder.

But what if we could fur­ther raise the qual­ity of New Zealand goat milk and at­tract more in­ter­est from these global mar­kets?

Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Waikato are col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Dairy Goat Co­op­er­a­tive NZ to find an­swers to ques­tions like these.

Mas­ters stu­dent Na­dine Huitema is look­ing at how diet and ge­net­ics af­fect the qual­ity of goat milk pro­duced in New Zealand.

It’s the first study of its kind in New Zealand and she’s fo­cussing on the milk’s func­tional com­po­nents – the el­e­ments that are ben­e­fi­cial to hu­man health.

These in­clude the fat and pro­tein con­tent and also a num­ber of bioac­tive el­e­ments, such as con­ju­gated linoleic acid and omega 3.

‘‘Goat milk has lower lev­els of al­pha-s1­ca­sein and smaller chained fatty acids than cows’ milk which makes it eas­ier to di­gest,’’ said Ms Huitema.

‘‘Plus goat milk pro­vides bet­ter nu­tri­ent ab­sorp­tion, so it’s of­ten used for in­fant for­mula. There’s grow­ing in­ter­est in Asian and West­ern mar­kets for such high-qual­ity goat milk prod­ucts, which makes this a re­ally ex­cit­ing area to work in.’’

Most of the re­search into goat milk has been car­ried out in Europe.

Goats there are of­ten a dif­fer­ent breed to the ones in New Zealand and they are typ­i­cally fed a dif­fer­ent diet.

‘‘The re­search ev­i­dence is that pas­ture is a bet­ter diet for boost­ing func­tional el­e­ments in goat milk, so we want to find out if the same is true here,’’ said Ms Huitema.

Ms Huitema’s re­search in­volves test­ing goat milk from 15 herds to com­pare the milk qual­ity over two sea­sons with dif­fer­ent di­ets. She’s also mon­i­tor­ing one herd which has been fed a new yeast sup­ple­ment.

The Dairy Goat Co-op­er­a­tive is also in­ter­ested in key genes for milk fat and pro­tein and Ms Huitema has adapted a method of geno­typ­ing goats to de­ter­mine which goats have strong, medium or weak forms of these genes.

‘‘It’s all about try­ing to en­hance the ‘good stuff’ in goat milk,’’ she said.

‘‘Goat milk can’t com­pete with cows’ milk on vol­ume, so know­ing what func­tional com­po­nents are dif­fer­ent is cru­cial if we want to en­cour­age in­creased con­sump­tion.

Good goat milk: Univer­sity of Waikato mas­ters stu­dent Na­dine Huitema is look­ing at how diet and ge­net­ics af­fect the qual­ity of goat milk pro­duced in New Zealand.

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