Anyone milking?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by kesoaps, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    I know Ross said his wife makes sheep milk soap, so there's got to be some milking going on there. Anyone else? I milked one ewe last year and got a quart a day for about a week...then my hands got tired. If you're milking, how much are you getting? What breed(s) are you milking? Are you milking for fun, or is there profit involved?
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Actually as our wholesale buyer disappeared and we wanted to get our wool processing moving we've put milking on hold. We have just about everything you need to milk comercially except a reliable market. Figure milk around 1.25 per litre (pint) or more in the USA. We do milk out ewes that have lost their lambs or simply won't milk, we use a machine and wouldn't go back to hand milking (except colostrum) for anything. Productiuon varies a lot but if you want to learn how to feed for growthy lambs try feeding for milk production! production for meat breeds runs about half a litre a day to 2 litres, and lactation runs about 120 days.
     

  3. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    What breed have you got, Ross? Are there other milkers out that way? I know the great lakes region (WI) has a cooperative going, and I thought there were a few up your way doing some commercial milking.

    Way out west here people look at me like I'm from mars when I tell them I want to milk sheep, lol! And unfortunately, I live in a watershed area and restrictions prohibit anything commercial, so for now I milk for soap and, with any luck, this year will do some cheese as well.
     
  4. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    I wish we could have sheep milk to buy in this country. Because I sure would like some!!! Sheep Cream, Sheeps cheese, Sheep milk Ice cream,, yum!!
    But I know just one buyer, won't make it worth while. Sigh ~ ~
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    There's a co-operative about 3 hours west of me, and another in SWOnt. and in W Quebec. Could be more but the trend last year was less. Balderson Cheese has started making sheep's milk cheese, and that is very close to me, but we can only do so much in a year. Processed wool looks somewhat easier to accomplish.
    Our breeds are down to Polypay and Dorset and Rideau Arcott with crosses. We had Suffolks Hampshires, and North County Cheviots too. They would all milk reasonably well except for the NCC's which were just too luney.
     
  6. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Bergere, there's a farm down there that's raising East Friesians, which are the queen of milk sheep. I'd have to go check to see where they're at. If you're interested, let me know and I'll put you in touch with her.
     
  7. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

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    We're considering having milking sheep. We've only had cow and goat milk (we mostly use goat since most in the family are sensitive to cow) and I'm concerned about the flavor comparrison. I'd rather have everyone on board with the same milk. My cow milk drinking kid turns his nose up at goat milk, even when I flavor it he says it still has an after taste (I understand his complaint since I have a sensitive palate too, i'm just more tollerant).

    If we do this venture, we'll want a multipurpose sheep that can handle cold weather, has soft wool, possibly good light flavored meat :) and milks...are we dreaming too big or is it possible? The meat part isn't top priority, but only an added bonus if it's good eating.

    Thanks for any input.
     
  8. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Sheeps milk is primarily used for cheese making and as it has twice the component solids of typical goat or cow milk it would be a very rich drinking milk. It is also naturally homoginized so seperating the cream is a little difficult. Off flavors come from lanolin so you'll have to milk carefully and keep the udder area sheared.
     
  9. lisarichards

    lisarichards Well-Known Member

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    We got Icelandic sheep specifically because we wanted to milk them as well as have more valueable wool and tasty meat. (well, and they are really hardy and like brush, and we have no pasture yet) I'm hoping to milk in the spring, mostly to make variations on Roquefort blue cheese.
     
  10. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

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    Richness isn't the issue it's the "off flavor" that bothers. My husband loves the goat milk due to the richness. I've had dairy goat experiance, but not sheep. I do appricate the help. I also would like to make cheese, butter, icecream, yogurt/kefir, soap,ect. My family is looking forward to homemade blue cheese. Thanks again, Reese
     
  11. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    Ah but Ross,, for those interested in a little extra work,, there is shear Heaven in sheep butter, cream, and ice cream. You can make stuff that puts Devons double cream from the UK to shame!! :D
     
  12. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I'm just lurking on this thread, but I once had some sheep cheese. It was prepared like a dry romano and was wonderful. Parmesan cheese disagrees with me, so a dry cheese with a romano flavor is fine by me to grate onto a pizza or something. Anyway, that particular sheep cheese is a fond memory. Never tried sheep milk, but sounds pretty wholesome to me.
     
  13. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Can't comment about sheep's milk, but I can about goat milk. I've kept goats for most of the last twenty years or so (other than a few years when I was teaching and not home enough), and have had most of the standard sized breeds. Even with good cleanliness, we usually had a little bit (barely detectable) of goaty flavor in the milk; my picky daughters would usually only drink it if I put chocolate in it. I have Kinder goats now, and have had NO, *zero* goaty flavor to the milk. It is very rich, too rich for my grandmother, who drinks 2% from the store, but it is absolutely excellent quality milk. The teats are good sized and easy-milking, and so far, the one doe I'm milking is holding her lactation well. I suspect I could have milked her through, but I bred her last month. You won't get wool from a Kinder goat, but they are supposed to make a decent small meat animal (I haven't butchered any yet), so are at least dual-purpose. And they are a nice size for a family, especially if you don't have a lot of land. I would *like* to have sheep, also, but just can't manage it right now, not on one acre. But their lactations are too short, and usually their teats are too small, to make a good all-round family dairy animal, IMO.

    Kathleen
     
  14. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Reese,

    I spoke recently with a sheep dairy farmer here in this state. He said he got into sheep because his son was allergic to cow's milk, and they didn't like the taste of goat. He told me the sheep milk had a sweeter taste to it, and was prefered by the entire household. It's higher in nutrients and minerals than either cow or goat, as well. Also highly digestable, like goat, and very high in zinc (great for the skin!) HTH.
     
  15. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much !! We've played with the idea of kinder goats and have heard great things about them (from here and researching around). We're also still playing with the idea of an all around use sheep. We are on less than an acre right now, but once we move we'll be on a MINIMUM of 10 (dh wants a min. of 40) so can manage more than a bit here and there. Who knows :D maybe we'll end up with both. OH and I have kids ;) and my own small hands to milk little teats so that's not a huge issue. Thanks again, Reese

    OH and researching alternatives i came across a very well broken down comparritive nutrients chart of cow/goat/sheep milk. Goat and Sheep milk are the easiest for humans to digest, it's a matter of deciding which to raise by the most use for our time and money for quality/flavor http://www.sheepdairying.co.uk/Milk.htm
     
  16. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

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    I just had a little piece of Manchego sheeps milk cheese from Spain!! If this is ANY indication of the type of cheese one can make with sheeps milk, well this is a MUST HAVE. Now I'm convinced that some dairy sheep will be a MUST on our little farm. Thanks, Reese

    (btw, this stuff was *gasp*$16.00 a pound)
     
  17. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Reese, here's another link that has abundant info on sheep dairying:

    sheep dairy info
     
  18. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

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    :) thanks so much, Reese
     
  19. inc

    inc Well-Known Member

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    "He told me the sheep milk had a sweeter taste to it, and was prefered by the entire household."

    sounds so much better than goats milk, which i have drank. i wondre if i would like it.
    if sheep have so much better milk- i think they would be a super homesteader animal for those who usually would keep a milk goat. if the udders were improved,i tried to milk a sheep ONCE. and such a jumpy animal.i think id almost enjoy having a milk animal if it had really good milk that didnt go off flavored as easy as goats milk did
    too bad the dairy breeds are wooly- i hate the wool and think that its a waste of grain on meat animals- its so hard to keep animals clean with out special care (sweaters, etc) for those who dont use the wool. its also a dirt magnet and not really a good choise on a dairy animal- all the goats are clean bellied.
     
  20. lisarichards

    lisarichards Well-Known Member

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    I'm reading "Practical Sheep Dairying -- The Care and Milking of the Dairy Ewe" by Olivia Mills. It's a bit old (1982) and based on British breeds, so it's not as useful as I wish it was. It's also one of the worst edited books I've ever read, filled with words run together and typos on almost every page, but I'm trying to ignore that.

    Does anyone have other book recommendations for milking sheep?