Country Lore: Milking Sheep

For the first time ever, our goats stopped producing milk in the winter while waiting to deliver. We still had milk customers, however, so one morning my husband got the idea to milk the sheep. Wow, what wonderful milk!

Our customers were game to try it, and they loved it. Even my mother, who does not like goat milk, really enjoys it. The sheep milk is so rich and creamy, as well as slightly sweet — it makes the best frozen-fruit shakes. Our customers do not even mind having to pay more for it than they would for the goat milk.

We raise Katahdin hair sheep that shed their coats and never have to be sheared. My husband milks them by hand along with our goats. The sheep are very smart and learned in a couple of days to get on the milk stand, where they receive grain as they are milked.

I have been making goat cheese for 16 years and have started trying my hand at making cheese from our sheep’s milk. It is a little trickier to make, and it’s just about impossible to find recipes for this type of cheese. If any Mother Earth News readers have recipes for sheep cheese, I’d be glad to have them. The yield from these cheeses is about twice as much as goat cheese, so we actually get more cheese for the same amount of milk. Sheep’s milk has about 20-percent solids and 9-percent butterfat, while goat’s milk only has 12-percent solids and 4-percent butterfat.

Leona Hanson
Mountain View, Missouri