Whitestone cheese company in North Otago has produced trial batches of what it believes to be a world first - cheese made from deer's milk.
The award-winning Oamaru company is processing elk's milk supplied by Clachanburn Station at Ranfurly in the Maniototo district.
Whitestone chief executive Simon Berry says it took up the challenge after Clachanburn approached it with the idea of producing cheese from deer's milk.
Mr Berry says although it's early days, it's looking promising. The company is taking regular deer's milk deliveries, the process has been worked out "at the shed level" on the farm and Whitestone made its fourth batch of deer cheese on Wednesday.
He says this season is technically the pilot season and the company plans on ramping up production next year.
Mr Berry says they have been getting a 30% to 50% yield in milk, whereas cow milk is usually around the 10% to 12% mark, so from that aspect not a lot of deer milk is needed.
He says the cheese itself is developing very unique flavour properties.
Mr Berry if everything goes to plan, Whitestone could be into commercial production of deer's cheese by next summer. Otago University is also researching the properties of deer's milk, he says.