Milking Sheep Basics

Why milk sheep? For the vitamin-rich cheese, yogurt and ice cream, of course! Discover the many benefits that come with milking sheep.

| August 2013

  • There should be enough room behind the ewe for you to sit on the milking platform or it should be short enough for you to get close while sitting on a separate milking stool.
    Illustration By Elara Tanguy
  • Learn everything you need to know about raising productive sheep, whether it’s two or a whole flock.
    Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing

The Backyard Sheep (Storey Publishing, 2013) by Sue Weaver is the go-to reference for everything sheep. From choosing the right breed to making ewe cheese, anyone can learn the basics and benefits of keeping sheep. In this excerpt, taken from chapter 12 “Got Milk?,” learn how milking sheep provides vitamin-rich milk, gourmet cheeses and other yummy dairy products.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: The Backyard Sheep.

Why Milk Sheep?

Why milk a ewe? For the cheese and the yogurt and the ice cream! Sheep milk has considerably higher solids content than goat or cow milk has, so it makes a lot more cheese per gallon. Sheep milk has nearly twice the butterfat of cow milk; it’s also richer in vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

Rich sheep-milk cheeses and yogurt are an epicurean delight and you can make them yourself. Cheese making is an art you can learn from books. I recommend Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses by Ricki Carroll and The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley. They’re the best!

Some of the world’s great cheeses are crafted of sheep milk, so you can taste them before you commit. Visit your favorite gourmet cheese store and sample some of the cheeses from the following countries. Yum!

Bulgaria: Katschkawalj, Sirene
France: Roquefort, Perail, Abbaye de Belloc, Ossau-Iraty, Broccio
Greece: Feta (can also be made of goat or cow milk), Kefalotiri, Myzithra, Kaseri Manouri
Hungary: Liptoi
Italy: Pecorino Romano, Pecorino Sardo, Pecorino Toscano, Fiore Sardo, and Canestro Pugliese
Portugal: Serra de Estrala
Romania: Brinza, Teleme
Spain: Manchego, Zamorano, Roncal, Castellano, Idiazabal, Burgos, Villalon
Turkey: Beyaz Peynir, Mihalic Peynir

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