Dairy farmers would be paid premium to milk at night

Updated at 9:02 am on 14 February 2012

Dairy farmers willing to milk their cows in the middle of the night to supply milk for a new sleep-inducing product would be paid extra for their efforts.

Canterbury dairy company Synlait is trialling a new milk powder designed to help people with sleeping disorders.

Synlait Night Milk is made from milk collected from cows during the hours of darkness and is processed at the company's nutritional plant in Dunsandel.

General manager for market and product development, Dr Tony McKenna, says cows produce a sleep-promoting hormone called melatonin at night and this is then expressed in their milk.

He says Synlait's farmer suppliers have shown a lot of interest in the new product.

Dr McKenna says dairy farmers already work difficult hours and instead of getting up at 4am to milk their herd, suppliers would be asked to wind their clocks back a couple of hours to get up at 2am.

They would be paid a premium to reward them for getting up so early.

If the product trials are successful, the night milk could be on supermarket shelves by the end of the year.

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