Nutritional Composition of NZ Sheep Milk

Research On The Nutritional Composition Of NZ Sheep Milk
The following is a summary based on an article by Angus Kebbell, featuring the insights of Amber Milan, a research fellow at the Liggins Institute, published on Interest, 22nd July 2023.

Did you know sheep milk is a powerhouse of nutrition, particularly New Zealand sheep milk?

Recent research conducted by Amber Milan, a research fellow at the Liggins Institute, has shed light on the health benefits of this unique milk compared to cow’s milk and European sheep’s milk.

Phot of Amber Milan with a flock of dairy sheep
Amber Milan of AgResearch and the Liggins Institute

Healthy Fats, Protein, and Essential Amino Acids

The study found that New Zealand sheep milk contains higher levels of health-beneficial lipids and fatty acids, making it more nutrient-dense than its counterparts. For the same quantity, sheep milk provides greater proportions of protein and fat, with 4.5% protein and just over 5% fat, compared to 3% protein and 3.5% fat in cow’s milk. The fats include higher quantities of beneficial lipids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Sheep milk offers more essential amino acids necessary for growth and has a distinct composition of medium-chain fatty acids, which are quickly digested and provide a readily available energy source. These fatty acids also do not elevate blood lipids in the same way as some other fats, meaning they don’t increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The research revealed fascinating insights into the nutritional profile of sheep milk compared to cow milk. Sheep milk contains more protein, fat (beneficial lipids and polyunsaturated fatty acids), carbohydrates, minerals (e.g. calcium, potassium, and magnesium), and vitamins.

The higher level of minerals can be digested by humans more quickly in sheep milk as opposed to cow milk so it is a faster and great[er] source of energy.


The study also explored various processing methods, such as spray drying and pasteurisation, to produce high-quality sheep milk products. The high total milk solids of sheep milk make it advantageous for cheese production and nutrient-dense products. Additionally, microbial analysis showed that New Zealand’s sheep milk production and storage protocols ensure a safe product for consumers.


New Zealand sheep milk is known for its mild flavour, making it an attractive option for consumers looking for an alternative to cow’s milk, and those who don’t like goat milk’s stronger taste.


In conclusion, research on the nutritional composition of NZ sheep milk shows that ours is a nutritional powerhouse with unique health benefits. This research highlights the vast potential of this remarkable dairy product.

So, next time you’re considering your milk options, give sheep milk a try!

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