Commercial deer cheese another step closer

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Commercially producing cheese from deer’s milk has come a step closer for Oamaru’s Whitestone Cheese.

As of last week the company had produced four trial batches of cheese from elk’s milk supplied by John Falconer, of Clachanburn Station, at Ranfurly.

Whitestone chief executive Simon Berry said they were still at the pilot stage deciding which cheese to make, but all going well, full scale production could begin next summer.

“We did out first batch of blue; it’s very white, very clean milk making a nice soft curd.”

Elk’s milk can provide a 30 per cent to 50 per cent yield which meant not a lot of deer milk was required. By comparison cow’s milk had a yield of around 10 to 12 per cent.

Mr Berry said Clachanburn Station approached the company saying they could supply elk’s milk and the volumes were expected to increase.

“They’ve still got hurdles on the farm but it’s a very well put together and next season they will milk a larger herd.”

A joint project by Otago and Lincoln universities has also been investigating the medicinal qualities of deer cheese and there was the added possibility that it could be marketed as a health product.

“It could dovetail into the deer velvet market in Asia,” Mr Berry said.

By CHRIS TOBIN

PHOTO: Simon Berry of Whitestone Cheese with samples of a trial batch of cheese they have produced form elk’s milk – CHRIS TOBIN