milking sheep

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by sugarspinner, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. sugarspinner

    sugarspinner Well-Known Member

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    I've asked before but didn't get a good answer. Maybe in the sheep forum, the right people will be reading. Do any of you have milking sheep? How satisfactory is this? How, in your opinion, does sheep milk compare to goats milk and cows milk? I'm not looking for a link on this (I've done that) but would like opinions from "those who do it.'
    Thanks
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We have sheep that are considered dual purpose meat/dairy with our Rideau Arcott ewes. They have East Freisan in their makeup and although they were not bred for dairy they can perform almost as well as the EFs. The milk is considered an industrial milk for cheese making but is sold as a drinking milk too. Personally I don't like it as well as cows milk to drink, as it is much richer in cream. That cream is naturally homoginized and although it can be seperated and will partially seperate on it's own it is harder to make butter etc out of it. I don't find it as sweet as cow's cream either. Production is around 150-200 days and averages 1/2 a litre (A litre and a pint are similar) per day. Some ewes will do much better than that too. Some dairy types will drop over 2 litres per day at peak production. It does freeze better than any other milk though. We milk and sell it for cheese making (when we do) and we make soap with it too. We don't drink it but then it's worth more than cow's milk too! 4 litres of milk (in the store) is around $4 and sheep's milk should pull down at least $5.20 to $8.20/ 4 litres! (CND)*
     

  3. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    I do not have milking Sheep... but...

    Sheep's milk makes outstanding cream, ice cream and cheese.

    Alot of the sheep's milk I had in the past, was very rich, but a little too sweet. So I think it depends on the breed, what they are fed and care.

    I buy imported hard sheep's cheese from Italy and Spain,
    because I have not been able to find a place that sells it in the USA.
    Also Have been unable to find a source of Sheep milk Cream or butter.

    Would like to see more sheep dairys in the future. :D
     
  4. vicb66

    vicb66 Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone here milk sheep?I've got 2 icelandic ewes.I separate the lambs at night and then milk the ewes in the morning.I then return the lambs to their mom's for the day.My lambs are almost 6 weeks and their behavior is unbearable so I started weaning them today.I get about 1 quart per milking from my ewes.I wondered if there are others out there that milk also.
     
  5. lambs.are.cute

    lambs.are.cute Well-Known Member

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    I've always milked at least one ewe for the colostrum but have stopped after that because most of my ewe have three lambs and I don't feel that they should have to feed me and three lambs. I have drank sheeps milk and it was good - I just milked into a cup and drank it warm from the sheep so I don't know what it would taste like cold.

    I got two east fresian ewe lambs so next year I'll have milk!! I have no idea how much but it's milk!
     
  6. 65284

    65284 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ross,
    I admit I'm not really up on metric measures, but wouldn't a litre be closer to a quart? I think a pint is less than 1/2 a litre.
     
  7. VA Shepherd

    VA Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    I have dairy sheep; I'm not milking this year, but I've done it for the last three, and hopefully I'll start again next year. I love sheep milk, despite the small nipples and relatively low production-- best yogurt ever! Of course, if you can afford a machine (and you have the numbers to justify the cost), that makes all the difference. Someday....

    Like you, I only milk once a day: lock the lambs up at night (no earlier than 2 weeks old), milk in the morning, give them back to mom for the day. I'm curious what you mean about their behavior being unbearable? Ours would yell and cry for the first couple of nights, but then the moms figured out it was free babysitting and the lambs realized there was alfalfa in the creep, and pretty soon they fought to get in every evening and were happy as clams. :happy0035:
     
  8. vicb66

    vicb66 Well-Known Member

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    We machine milk here.We first milk the goats and then bring the milk tank in to strain and cool the milk then we head back out to milk the woolies.Hand milking for colostrum on the newest mom ewe is a pain with the mud and the tiny teats.She was a trooper though.Her first time EVER on the stand or being touched by us.She stood the entire time while I washed her and milked her.Took at least 20 mins and she stood for me.So nice to have cooperative girls.The other two still have to be dragged up to the stand then they figure it out and stand as long as the food keeps coming!Wouldn't milk woolies without a milk machine.It does require more hand manipulation than with the goats.The goats we can attach the machine and walk off to do other chore.The woolies don't give you that option.Constantly bumping the teats to keep the milk dropping.Making AWESOME cheese though!
     
  9. lambs.are.cute

    lambs.are.cute Well-Known Member

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    It does?? I've never milked a goat before but I've milked two of my ewes. One had such big teats that her lambs couldn't drink in the morning when her udder was full. So I just milked her in the morning and fed the milk to my bummer lamb. She was easy easy easy to milk as her teats were just slightly longer than my fist.

    The other one feeds triplets so I only milk her extra colostrum (she produces so much that she get engourged and won't let the babies nurse unless I milk her out). Her teats are smaller than my other one's but the still are easy to milk.

    I have met some ewes that have such tiny teats that milking would be a pain but why do they require extra hand manipulation?
     
  10. goto10

    goto10 Well-Known Member

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    On my website, I tried to log my experience milking my katahdin sheep.

    http://www.smallholderhollow.com/?page_id=491

    The gist of it is, I started locking lambs up at night after a week. It did not affect their growth. I only milk once a day. I mix the milk with my goat milk so I am not sure about exact volumes. I'm getting a quart from milking 2 sheep and 2 goats in the morning, but the production can't really be equally divided into 4 because they are at various lactation stages and whatnot. It varies depending on what how much they ate the night before. I just built a milking machine to use but I was initially hand milking and it took me at least 10 or 15 minutes per sheep. I was milking one handed because there is no way to aim those tiny things and I also had to hold the jar in case they decided to kick or something. My one sheep took a week to be trained on the stand, the other was more than happy for me to milk her the first time she went up there. I have nigerians and the teat sizes between my goats and sheep are similar but i feel as though with the sheep, you have to push up there more and as someone else said ,you have to bump the udder way more, whether hand or machine milking, compared to goats.

    I wish more people would milk their sheep. I am just baffled by people who raise sheep for meat but do not even attempt to milk. That's an untapped resource sitting right there in your yard. I use a stud ram for my ewes and I've recommended to the owners that they should try to milk some of their flock and they were just like, well we don't feel like it. To each their own, I guess.
     
  11. Leo

    Leo Well-Known Member

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    My EF-Icelandic ewes have teats smaller than my pinkie, that being said they are a breeze to hand milk, just use my index,bird finger and thumb. Much easier on my arthritis than a first freshner doe.

    I love both goat and sheep milk, but sheep milk is thicker(higher TS, and SNF than the goats on DHI), both are great for my lactose-intolerant family.
     
  12. VA Shepherd

    VA Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    It seems to depend on the sheep, even within breeds sometimes. We have what we call 'gushers' and 'tricklers'. I'm sure you can guess which we prefer. Certain ewes seem to be able to hold it in, so that after we're convinced we've gotten all of a ewe's milk, her lambs drink and drink, and she looks at us with this expression that says "suckers." :happy0035: Some require a lot of bag massage to let down their milk (not nearly as rough as the incredible 'lamb hammer' maneuver, ouch!), others none at all. One ewe, Samantha, on the farm I used to work on, has a HUGE bag (fat triplets every year), but it used to trickle out so slowly, even with massage, we could never get it all even with double snack rations. Finally, a new intern discovered that if you pulled the milking cups down & out just slightly, stretching the nipple as the machine ran, she suddenly became a gusher. Sheep are weird, and every one has their own quirks, I think.

    And long teats are wonderful for hand milking, absolutely! My Cotswolds have cow-like nipples, but the EF lines we call kitty-ti:censored:ies. I Definitely like the Cotswolds for hand milking, but the EFs are gushers, so....

    :)
     
  13. MDKatie

    MDKatie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've just weaned my Romney lambs and decided to milk their mother. The first time I haltered her and tied her to the gate, expecting her to HATE it, but to my surpise she stood extremely well! Her teats are not nearly as nice as my doe's teats to milk, but they're much better than I expected. She milked a quart that first time. I just milked her again yesterday, but this time I put her on my milk stand (now that she's sheared her neck will fit in the headstall) and she was an angel! She didn't really care for being up there, but was quickly convinced when I put grain in the feeder. I got another quart.

    I drank it cold and it was very good! I tried to make cheese last night and unfortunately it didnt' turn out very well, I guess it's much different than goat milk and I didn't tweak my recipe at all. The next quart I get will be yogurt!

    I'm still not sure if I want another animal to milk right now, but I think I'll see how she does being milked once a day and go from there.