Milk sheep?

Cottagebytheswamp

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Does anyone keep sheep for milk?

BACKSTORY
I have an allergy to cow milk growing up I had alpine dairy goats but we sold them when I was a young teen and moved farther away into the country I now haven't had dairy animals in quite a few years but I do have horses and we raise a steer each year for beef

WHY SHEEP?
1. I am allergic to cow milk
2. Goats are hard to contain and I do not miss chasing them away from traffic at midnight
3. The land that I currently have is flat grassland which is ideal for horses and cows but not so much for goats
4. The milk has 7.3% butterfly compared to cow+goat which has 3.5% so you only need half the amount of sheep milk to make cheeses compared to cow milk
5. Wool I realize that not all sheep have the same quality wool but it would still be useable for small projects?

QUESTIONS
1. Do you or have you ever kept sheep for milk? What was your experience?
2. What supplements would they need in addition to high-quality grass
3. What is the care level compared to horses and goats
4. What would the yearly cost look like

I am looking into getting them in the future

I live in eastern NC

I am fully aware of the responsibility of keeping dairy animals
 

Baymule

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What breeds are you looking at? I applaud you getting milking sheep! I raise Katahdin hair sheep. I’ve never milked them, but friends here tell me that I should.

Typically the wool from milk breeds isn’t very good quality. Maybe you could buy some katahdin ewes, breed to a milk breed ram, keep the ewe lambs and breed to a Katahdin ram. It takes 3-4 generations to breed the wool out. Then you could have your milking ewes and the ease of hair sheep.

The Katahdin club has a breed up program. If you start with registered ewes, outcross to a milk breed ram, you can record the offspring as half with the Katahdin registry. Breed those ewes to a registered Katahdin ram, record the second generation as 3/4, breed them to a registered Katahdin ram, record them as 7/8 . At one year old they are eligible for full registration if they pass the breed standard and have a hair coat. If they don’t have a good hair coat by 3rd generation, go for the 4th generation. There are lines of Katahdins that have very milky ewes. You would want to purchase rams from those type lines.

That doesn’t answer your questions, indeed, it’s opened up to more questions. LOL Just thought I’d throw that out there for you to ponder on.

I’m currently working on the breed up program and now getting a few 3rd generation lambs. You might even inspire me to try milking a few. LOL
 

Britgoes2market

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Does anyone keep sheep for milk?

BACKSTORY
I have an allergy to cow milk growing up I had alpine dairy goats but we sold them when I was a young teen and moved farther away into the country I now haven't had dairy animals in quite a few years but I do have horses and we raise a steer each year for beef

WHY SHEEP?
1. I am allergic to cow milk
2. Goats are hard to contain and I do not miss chasing them away from traffic at midnight
3. The land that I currently have is flat grassland which is ideal for horses and cows but not so much for goats
4. The milk has 7.3% butterfly compared to cow+goat which has 3.5% so you only need half the amount of sheep milk to make cheeses compared to cow milk
5. Wool I realize that not all sheep have the same quality wool but it would still be useable for small projects?

QUESTIONS
1. Do you or have you ever kept sheep for milk? What was your experience?
2. What supplements would they need in addition to high-quality grass
3. What is the care level compared to horses and goats
4. What would the yearly cost look like

I am looking into getting them in the future

I live in eastern NC

I am fully aware of the responsibility of keeping dairy animals
I can't quite answer this question YET, but I sold all my 4H sheep and purchased the Tunis breed. Suposedly, they are a meat, wool, and milk sheep. I can't quite answer yet, because we have all new stock this year so I havn't actually miked them yet. But I have heard from others that their temperament is excellent for milking, however, the fat content isn't as high as a typical Milk Breed. I plan to grain mine-however, I have also heard that you don't have to go through those lengths with the Tunis. All speculation, next year, will be a year we get to learn more about them! :D
 

Cottagebytheswamp

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What breeds are you looking at? I applaud you getting milking sheep! I raise Katahdin hair sheep. I’ve never milked them, but friends here tell me that I should.

Typically the wool from milk breeds isn’t very good quality. Maybe you could buy some katahdin ewes, breed to a milk breed ram, keep the ewe lambs and breed to a Katahdin ram. It takes 3-4 generations to breed the wool out. Then you could have your milking ewes and the ease of hair sheep.

The Katahdin club has a breed up program. If you start with registered ewes, outcross to a milk breed ram, you can record the offspring as half with the Katahdin registry. Breed those ewes to a registered Katahdin ram, record the second generation as 3/4, breed them to a registered Katahdin ram, record them as 7/8 . At one year old they are eligible for full registration if they pass the breed standard and have a hair coat. If they don’t have a good hair coat by 3rd generation, go for the 4th generation. There are lines of Katahdins that have very milky ewes. You would want to purchase rams from those type lines.

That doesn’t answer your questions, indeed, it’s opened up to more questions. LOL Just thought I’d throw that out there for you to ponder on.

I’m currently working on the breed up program and now getting a few 3rd generation lambs. You might even inspire me to try milking a few. LOL
Thank you for the information ☺️
I'm not sure what breed I want yet but possibly British milk sheep or a east friesian hair sheep mix
live in a very warm climate so although i would love to have wool it's not a priority if they would not do well in the summer
 

Cottagebytheswamp

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Do you raise them on pasture if so how often do you move them and do you give them any supplements
What breeds are you looking at? I applaud you getting milking sheep! I raise Katahdin hair sheep. I’ve never milked them, but friends here tell me that I should.

Typically the wool from milk breeds isn’t very good quality. Maybe you could buy some katahdin ewes, breed to a milk breed ram, keep the ewe lambs and breed to a Katahdin ram. It takes 3-4 generations to breed the wool out. Then you could have your milking ewes and the ease of hair sheep.

The Katahdin club has a breed up program. If you start with registered ewes, outcross to a milk breed ram, you can record the offspring as half with the Katahdin registry. Breed those ewes to a registered Katahdin ram, record the second generation as 3/4, breed them to a registered Katahdin ram, record them as 7/8 . At one year old they are eligible for full registration if they pass the breed standard and have a hair coat. If they don’t have a good hair coat by 3rd generation, go for the 4th generation. There are lines of Katahdins that have very milky ewes. You would want to purchase rams from those type lines.

That doesn’t answer your questions, indeed, it’s opened up to more questions. LOL Just thought I’d throw that out there for you to ponder on.

I’m currently working on the breed up program and now getting a few 3rd generation lambs. You might even inspire me to try milking a few. LOL
 

Baymule

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Do you raise them on pasture if so how often do you move them and do you give them any supplements
They are pastured, put in a pen at night for safety. I bought this place a little over a year ago. I have had one field fenced for them. I’m in the process of getting another field fenced, it required a bulldozer to clear fence row. Then I’ll have another field to rotate them on. The back field will be next years project. I have 25 acres.
Yes, I give them a pellet 14% protein, and free choice hay. Had a drought this summer and 2 months of over 100F degrees. I had to dry lot the sheep for almost 3 months and feed them. They ate a round bale of hay a week.
 

purplequeenvt

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Look into Finns. They are milky (because they like to have litters of lambs) and nice wool. Just make sure you purchase from someone that breeds for milkier lines. They’re also smaller sheep and much more feed efficient than the large dairy breeds.
 

ENSJ

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Finnsheep and Icelandic sheep are commonly kept for milk, meat and wool. They are smaller than other dairy sheep. The wool of Icelandic has two types in it, combine the two and you get traditional lopi.

Dual coated fleece — Icelandic fleece is the most versatile of all breeds and is a hand spinner's dream! The wool also felts easily and is prized by fiber artists. The two coats are:

  • Tog: the soft strong long (to 18 inches) lustrous outer coat that provides wind, rain, and dust protection for the sheep. It has little crimp and hangs in loose curls. Used traditionally for sails, rope, sewing thread, belts, rugs, wall hangings, saddle clothes, lace shawls, and embroidery yarns.
  • Thel: the soft under coat that keeps the sheep warm. Very fine, as small as 10 microns in diameter. Used for soft fine woolen yarns in under garments, fancy mittens, socks and baby clothes. This fiber has some crimp.
  • The two coats can be spun together— The tog and thel can be spun together to produce yarns that are similar to a mohair wool blend and are suitable for sweaters, socks, and hats.

    Other characteristics:
  • Dual coat easily separated — The tog and thel can be seperated by hand simply by just pulling both ends of the lock, or by using wool cards or viking combs.
  • Soft "handle" — Icelandic wool is rated at a 62 to 64 spinning count, fiber ranges from 10 to 27 microns in diameter and feels very soft to the hand.
  • Long staple — Icelandic fleece can grow to 18 inches in a year. For best and cleanest hand spinning fleeces, ewes are sheared twice a year, in March and in November, with the fall clip used for spinning and the spring clip used for felting.
  • Minimal preparation — The naturally clean locks of Icelandic sheep only need to have the tips flicked or combed to untangle the long tog and then can be easily spun from the grease or washed locks. It can be processed into carded batts or roving. Viking combs are a natural for this kind of fleece.
  • Wide range of natural lustrous fleece colors — Icelandic sheep produce 27 different colors and patterns
  • Less lanolin in the fleece — Less lanolin means more fiber yield per pound of raw fleece. Icelandic fleeces have a 20 to 29% shrink, compared to modern breeds where 50% of the fleece weight is in the wool grease. Therefore, a 7 pound Icelandic fleece would yield as much fiber as a 10 lb. fleece of a modern breed.
  • Fleece weights: 5 to 7 pounds per year for adults; 3 to 4 pounds for a 7 month old lamb fleece.
  • The best fleece for felting — Icelandic fleece has long been famous with fiber artists for its excellent felting properties! Makes a fast felting, soft, strong product. Easily made into hats, vests, masks, purses, slippers and boots. Traditionally the yarn was knitted into garments three sizes too large and then felted down to size to make the clothing windproof.
  • Commercial yarn popularity — Reynolds Lopi has been Americas most popular knitting yarn for years and is made with 100% Icelandic wool.
 

Mini Horses

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What about st Croix? Aren't they a hair sheep and decent milking? I'm not a sheep owner...so, just thinking I read that somewhere😊
 

ENSJ

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For hot climates hair sheep like Kathadin, St. Croix and Dorper are best. All three can actually be milked with the best known ones being the Kathadin even though they are not prolific milkers and won't give you as much as an East Friesian for example. Dorpers are better milk producers (quantity) and will give you some good meat as well. Though hair sheep give you no wool, if you want that as well.

East Friesian, Laucune and Awassi are known dairy sheep (the Awassi comes from the middle east so is known to handle warmer climates). But their wool quality is bad and most of them wouldn't produce the quality wool you want.

The Laucune is actually known as a wool sheep as well but tends to shed its hair on the belly and chest. Because of that you only need to shear the top portion. If you want some wool but not a lot and in a hot climate, that might be a good compromise. Its this sheeps milk that is used for the traditional Roquefort cheese. Crosses between East Friesian and Laucune can give prolific milkers with the shedding pattern of the Laucune. Most breeders of the Laucune and its crosses tend to shear themselves as they often don't want to pay someone to shear just half a sheep.

The Assaf is a cross between East Friesian and Awassi to create a hardier breed with better milk production. Though the wool isn't of good quality, they are hardy and good milkers and tend to do better than East Friesians in warmer climates.

Chios sheep are a Greek breed whose milk is used to produce feta, manouri etc. Popular dairy sheep in Europe. You also have the Sarda from Italy and the British milksheep from the UK.

Zwartbles (white blaze) are black sheep from The Netherlands a dairy breed. Often crossed with the Friesian.

That's about all the breeds I can think off on the top of my head for now.
 
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