Funding amount:
EAFRD (WG RC_RDP Wales) contribution

Project Description

With conventional milk supply affected by erratic markets and volatile milk prices, the need to identify unique selling points (USP’S) is ever more important within the dairy sector. Milk has long been known and used to promote sleep. Melatonin is the hormone contained in milk that helps control sleep and wake cycles and is produced naturally by the cow in response to darkness.


Two dairy farmers in the Bridgend area are involved in an EIP project which could potentially find the best milking system to increase Melatonin in their herds’ milk. Both farms are 3 times a day dairy systems that are milking their entire herd at 8 hour intervals. At present the milk from the three milkings is pooled together, but in this 13-month project the milk produced during daylight and darkness will be sampled separately. The project will determine whether there is enough Melatonin in the night milk to brand it for its sleep-inducing properties. Seasonal variations (summer/winter lighting), environmental factors (housing and lighting), and other factors such as nutrition will all be taken into consideration when monitoring Melatonin levels.

If the levels of Melatonin in milk harvested during the dark hours is found to be 1mg per 250g or higher, it can then be claimed that it helps induce sleep. By achieving such a result, there would be an opportunity for farmers to consider developing a premium milk product that would have added value and competitiveness in the dairy sector in Wales.

European Innovation Partnership (EIP) is part of the Co-operation and Supply Chain Development Scheme (CSCDS) delivering under Measure 16 (Article 35 of Regulation (EU) 1305/2013). The CSCDS is an important element of the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The EIP delivers under sub Measure 16.1 of the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014- 2020. 

Reports, Videos and Articles

Report (November 2019): Night milk project full report

Further project information:

Russell Thomas
Email project contact