I knew intrinsically that dairy sheep were meant for us. Before I ever tasted sheep milk, or spent time with a lounging ewe, I felt a sense of rightness when I considered sheep for our dairy animals. It could be we like to take the road less traveled. But, I can say with confidence, dairy sheep are awesome.
Someone asked me the other day why we have milk sheep. I couldn’t help but defensively rebut. What other animal can you reliably get milk, meat, and fiber from? Few animals have deeper roots in human agriculture than our friend the sheep. They are gentle, and intelligent (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). They are loyal and loving, and put cats to shame when it comes to curiosity. We are regularly mobbed by our sheep for love and attention. Our lactating dairy ewe produces more than half a gallon of milk per day, and is easily handled by our children.
The milk from sheep is excellent for cheese making, and is delicious as straight milk. When compared to cow’s milk it is slightly sweeter, much richer, and has a faintly musty finish that is not at all unpleasant. Many people say it tastes just like milk from a cow but creamier. We think it has a unique flavor profile that can be featured in artisan cheeses, or buried in deserts and prepared dishes.
For us, milking is a time of reflection. We relish the opportunity to take in the vista. Sheep take patience, and care. They are certainly not a set it and forget it kind of animal. But, with conscientious care, and commitment to understanding the needs of the flock, diary sheep make an amazing addition to any franch.