Question Sheep milk

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Farrier1987
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Sheep milk

Post by Farrier1987 » Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:26 am

This is really for Brebis, but I thought I would start a new thread instead of in the gm. I know you had posted before about dairy sheep, but I cant find it,

Please tell us some more about dairy sheep, problems or good stuff, stuff to watch out for, what they eat, stuff like that.

I am not seriously looking as I have the goats. But sort of tire kicking. Couple questions for you to start off.

If one was interested in a milk sheep, where would you look? What might be a sort of reasonable price, not the cheapest one, and not a show winner, just a good home sheep. How long will they milk after freshening? What kind of volumes do you get? How much does that vary during a lactation?Are they seasonal breeders like dairy goats? Do you sheer, what do you do with the fleece? Do you hand milk?

Thoughts and pointers would be highly desired.
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Farrier1987. South of Chatham on Lake Erie. Chickens, goats, horse, garden, dog, cat. Worked all over the world. Know a little bit about a lot of things. No incubator, broody hens.

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Killerbunny
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Re: Sheep milki

Post by Killerbunny » Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:28 am

DO they need friends as well since they are a flock animal - just asking.
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Re: Sheep milk

Post by TomK » Tue Apr 28, 2020 8:05 am

@Farrier1987 ..all great questions...lotta folks have this yen to get into animals but don't ask the nitty gritty questions and then fail at the project...I am looking at getting sheep in the very near future, for fleece, not milk but MJ is thinking 'cheese' so the milking idea has come into the fore... :run:
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Re: Sheep milk

Post by Brebis » Sun May 03, 2020 3:55 pm

Yes, sheep like being in flocks and don’t do well solo. We used to bring my step son’s 4H ewe lamb over to our place for a day before the shows to wash and prepare her and she hated being by herself even with a whole bunch of chickens and turkeys for company.

I’m biased but I love sheep. They really are one of the most adaptable and useful of livestock. What could you not like from something that will give you meat, milk and wool! They are small so easy to handle, they’re not brilliant so learn just what they need to and don’t get into trouble, and will eat what’s available but don’t need much more. They have long been the forgotten farm animals left to survive in the back 40 so are generally tough.

Dairy sheep need a bit of extra care but no more than say a dairy goat- better feed during late gestation and milking. Being small and food oriented they are easy to manage to milk and when they do kick you it’s gentle!
If you want some to milk you’ll need to get them with at least 50% of one of the dairy breeds (East Friesian, Lacaune, British Milk Sheep and some Icelandics). That will give you a decent amount of milk and they will continue milking once the lambs are weaned, something meat sheep don’t do. You can wean the lambs at about 30 days but they have to be creep fed and eating well by that time. They can milk for about 6 months, though they produce less as they get to the end but by then it can be 10-12% fat! An average dairy sheep will average about 1-2L/day but the milk is about double the components of goats or cows so a little goes a long way. You can milk them with the lambs still on but they have the uncanny habit of holding on to the richest milk for their lambs!

The other bonus about sheep milk is it can be frozen and used later. Goat and cows milk doesn’t tolerate freezing very well but because sheep milk does you can bulk it and then use it later when you have enough. You can make very decent cheese out of it and of you want to make soap it needs to be frozen first anyway. Many of us who got started milking sheep would do this so we had enough to ship to a processor. So, if you’re only milking a few you can still use the milk in the winter, or balance out the high component late lactation milk with the early milk or save it until you have the time to deal with it.
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Re: Sheep milk

Post by Killerbunny » Sun May 03, 2020 4:35 pm

Great - thanks @Brebis
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Re: Sheep milk

Post by Farrier1987 » Mon May 04, 2020 8:54 am

Thank you Brebis.

Can they be tethered like my goats? I really like that idea to be able to clean up certain spots. And they are much better grazers than goats. Goats like to browse too, and the sheep will crop much closer.

Where would one look for one of the dairy breeds you mention and what would be a reasonable price? What I would probably do is look for a 100% already in milk, milk her to the end of the lactation and learn a bunch before having lambs. 100% because I will not probably have a ram, but I can find a neighbor with one but wont be a dairy breed, so I will end up with 50%'s anyway.

Are they seasonal breeders like my goats, or just whenever like cows?

You eve make butter? If its as rich as you say, I would guess no problem. Does the milk separate by gravity like cows milk or stay more or less homogenized like goat milk?

Gosh its nice to be able to ask someone that has some experience with them. Thanks again Brebis.
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Farrier1987. South of Chatham on Lake Erie. Chickens, goats, horse, garden, dog, cat. Worked all over the world. Know a little bit about a lot of things. No incubator, broody hens.

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