Milk sheep

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by mamabear, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. mamabear

    mamabear Well-Known Member

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    Good evening,
    I have been trying to figure out whether to go for a milk cow, goat or sheep. I've read such nice things about all three, that I'm now quite confused. We had a milk cow when I was a kid, but even being a small Jersey, she gave quite a bit of milk. Since I am down to one son, from three being in the house, I don't need gallons and gallons of milk. However, I would like to have enough to drink and attempt to make cheese from.
    Is there one breed of sheep that you consider to be better than others for this? Now bear this in mind... I know nothing of sheep other than the ones I see around here that you have to shear. I'd rather not have that kind. :D

    Since I've totally revealed my ignorance, would someone please help. :help:

    Thank you.
    mamabear
     
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Try your local library for a book on sheep breeds. I think If memory serves me that most breeds for milk are in/out of Europe. There are several breeds to choose from,You might try a breed noted for Multiple births. And bottle feed the babies and milk the ewe.
     

  3. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    Go for the sheep !
    They are wonderful :)
    I have dairy cross sheep for sale and right now trying to coordinate transportation in different states.
    The dairy crosses we have are East Friesian crossed with Polypay, and some with Dorset, Merino and Rideau Arcott.
    They are excellent for milk production, prolific lambing, off season breeding , market lambs, and easy to handle.
    Ours are naturally colored and white and have wonderful fleeces too.

    I have contacted a lady in Texas who I sold lambs to but I think she is keeping all her lambs this year and continuing to increase her flock.

    Otherwise, there are possible trips being coordinated for western, southern and eastern states
     
  4. quailkeeper

    quailkeeper Well-Known Member

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    I would not recommend jumping into sheep for milk. The milk does NOT taste like cow's milk. The hair breeds are not noted for their milk production so you will probably have to get a wool breed. Here is a great link for sheep breeds http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/sheep/ . If you do find a milk sheep breeder ask to sample the milk from the same ewe you will be buying. Every ewe will have a different taste. I had milk from one of my Barbado ewes and I was literally sick from the taste. Try mixing fish oil and evaporated milk and that about pegs the flavor. So I got into the Dexters for my milk. Great little cow with low upkeep and produces a pretty decent amount of milk. Has the same butterfat as a Jersey. I would also recommend tasting goat milk from a nanny before buying. A lot of goats out there have goaty flavored milk.
     
  5. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    Just thought I'd also mention that there is a lot of information available about milking sheep and a couple variety of dairy sheep breeds currently in the U.S.
    This would include literature from dairy sheep symposiums and a couple sheep dairy discussion groups.
    There are many internet links available as well.

    Deb Bender
    Deerfield, WI
     
  6. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    Ewe milk is used primarily for cheese not for drinking raw.
    People in Wisconsin (as well as other states), are milking for cheese production, yogurt and some use it to make ice cream.
    There is a couple producers that mix Jersey milk with the sheep milk and others mixing with goat's milk.
    The producer in Texas is using it in her cheese cakes too.

    There is currently breeders crossing hair breeds with wool breeds if they are not interested in the wool breeds, which works in the hotter climates too....
     
  7. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    The pro's of sheep milk over cow is the same as goat. Both are naturally homogonized and break down easier in the human body, making consumption of any of their products, from milk to yogurt, by far easier to digest.

    If you're looking for volume, or year round milking, sheep may not be what you're looking for(commercial milkers often stop at 200 days.) However, their milk is far more nutritious than cows milk, and they certainly battle over the nutrients with goats. Sheep is higher in the B vitamins than both cow or goat, and it's double in fats (which is why they use them for cheese making.)

    I spoke with a farmer who got into the sheep dairy business because his son couldn't drink cow's milk. They tried goat, but the kids didn't like it. Someone gave them a sample of sheep milk, they found it to be sweeter in taste than the goat, and they were hooked.

    As for which breeds, the East Friesian is the undisputed queen of the dairy sheep, in much the same way that Holsteins are in the cow world. They give a great deal more milk than any other breed, and fortunately there are more and more farms with crosses available. Some folks claim Icelandics are good milkers, and from what I can tell they should be okay for homesteading use (but the records are pretty sparse.) Dorsets are a domestic breed that have been milked. I've got a suffolk ewe here that I've milked, she's given 2 lbs per day, but I only milked a couple of weeks.

    If you decide to go with a sheep for milk, but can't find any 'dairy' breeds within a reasonable travelling distance, you can always begin searching the meat breeds. Find out what the weaning weight of the lambs has been, and whether or not they were grained to attain that weight. My suffolk girl weaned her twins this spring at 70 lbs each (give or take a couple) with nothing but their mother's milk and grass. That was a gain of approx. 1 lb per day each, which shows a good milking mother.

    HTH!
     
  8. eieiomom

    eieiomom Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like your Suffolk works well for you :)


    Another property of sheep milk is that it can be frozen until needed for it's use.
     
  9. mulliganbush

    mulliganbush Well-Known Member

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    I've only had experience with Friesian crosses, not with purebred ewes, but the crosses with Polypay and Suffolk do well in milk production, flocking instinct, lambing ease and production.

    I wouldn't tackle the Icelandic as my first sheep, although they're a wonderful breed.

    Ray
     
  10. mamabear

    mamabear Well-Known Member

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    See, this is why I ask the folks on HT. I know I will get a wide variety of knowledgeable answers, with enough information to get me going.
    Thanks to all who replied.
    mamabear
     
  11. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Here's a great link. I found another one yesterday but didn't bookmark it. Will try to find it for you, as well.

    milk sheep
     
  12. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I've milked Dorsets, Hampshires, Rideau Arcott, Suffolks, NC Cheviot, and Polypays. As said it is not the best drinking milk from any of those breeds, however if you're determined to have a multi purpose (milk) sheep then try the East Freisan or French Lancune (if you can get them) I understand the British Dairy sheep are also higher volume/lower fat but again I doubt they are in the USA. With your requirements I'd probably look at goat's milk first even though I perfer lamb to chevon.
     
  13. Eunice

    Eunice Well-Known Member

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    We have raw cow milk, fresh goat milk and about six weeks ago added sheep milk to the frig (because of a friend that is allergic to cow and goat milk). I got brave enough to taste it last week and really love it. If I had the volume, I would choose sheep milk to drink. It is rich without being gaggingly so and there is no musky flavor like goat milk.
     
  14. woolyfluff

    woolyfluff Well-Known Member

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    Of all the answer it seem Their has One breed left out for sure and that is the ICELANDIC SHEEP !! THEY ARE A VERY MULTIPLY SHEEP ON GOOD GRASS TWIN OR BETTER 2 COATS SHEARD ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR AVERAGE WEIGH OF LAMBS 80-100LBS IN 4 MONTHS FOR YOU THEY ARE ALSO A MILK SHEEP !! TO USE IT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA TO FEED THEM GRAIN VERY EASY TO BE OVER WEIGHT AND ONLY GIVE ONE LAMB LAST BUT NOT LEAST WHEN LAMBS ARE BORNTHEY ARE UP AND LOOKING FOR DINNER IN A VERY FEW MINUTES WERE WOOL IS REALLY GREAT TO SPIN OR FOR FELTING
     
  15. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Actually...we did mention icelandics :D

    Here's another link with some info.
    sheep magazine article

    From what I've heard, people who've drank both sheep and goat milk have found sheep to be a bit sweeter and more palatable (sp?)

    Here's another interesting study which says that sheep milk may prevent alzheimers!
     
  16. mamabear

    mamabear Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the great ideas. And a special thanks to you, kesoaps, for the great links.
    I sure wish there were some kind of tastings for milk. If there can be wine tastings, why not milk tastings?
    I don't know this for sure, but I'm figuring that the milk from various sheep are probably a little different in taste just like for cows. Is this right?

    mamabear
     
  17. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    No clue. The two people I spoke with were from different areas of the state, approx 400 miles apart, and drank from two different breeds. Both said it was sweet. I suspect a good deal has to do with what they're eating. Good luck with your project!
     
  18. mamabear

    mamabear Well-Known Member

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    Now for a really stupid question...
    But is there a dairy sheep that you don't have to shear? Kinda like a goat?
    Or just wishful thinking...
     
  19. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    E Freisans have wool but alot less than most, with bare bellies and sparce top cover. You "could" milk any hair breed too and it might even be better milk. Udder washing of lanolin is a pain.