I love my milking Sheep. If I had to choose between owning a good milking sheep or a goat, I am ALWAYS going to pick my sheep.
While the volume is not as much as a dairy goat, the fact that sheep milk has such a larger amount of proteins, it does not matter.. you will still get the same amount of rich creamy yogurt, amazing Ice cream, outstanding soft farmers Cheese or Hard Feta Cheese in a lovely salt brine. I even have skimmed cream off the top and made sheep butter.
The best part, your sheep ram does not stink or pee on himself like a goat buck will.. Not having that stink around is huge to me..
Having said that, I keep ending up with goats over the years lol.. I think its because I love having a goat or two on the farm. There is times where I think I should just get a nice weather and train it as a hauling/pack/cart boy just so I have one on the farm..
The biggest issue with having milking girls is that you need to milk twice a day ideally which means that you are after the first milking, pulling the babies to be bottle feed or you are milking once a day and co-sharing with the baby or babies.
I do tend to co-share most of the time, it works well, once the babies get to be weaning size, I can move over to full time milking for the rest of the milking season. I have always hand milked the girls and this works well for me.. I started hand milking and having my own goats at the age of 8 so its muscle memory to me.
However it locks me to the farm in a crazy way because hubby does not milk well, he tries and it never works.. and I can not teach him a way that gets the job done.. We have tried to work on this for years and nope!
This year we are taking our “honeymoon 20 years later” and we will have a full time live on the farm sitter for the two weeks we are gone. This means that either I need to find a work around for the milking and or have a VERY short milking season and or buy a new milker to bring in after I am back..
Buy a auto milker.. yup.. after 15 years of milking by hand on the farm, I am now the proud owner of a fancy steel goat/sheep two teat only plug in power milker with pulse built in.
I have not had anyone freshen so I can’t give any thoughts on how it works yet or on how interesting it will be to train the girls to it. I will have to change a number of things. I normally milk on a stand in the big barn but I will have to pull the house milking ewe out of the main flock and set up the milking area in the Croft as the Croft has power and the Big Barn does not.
No sheep likes to live alone and I can’t keep her lambs with her.. this means that I will need to have two house milk ewes this year so they can be their own little flock of two and that I will have bottle babies.
Still I want to have more freedom this year and in the coming years and this will allow me to have someone come in to do chores now and again. It will allow me to go away for a couple days to seminars and have hubby do the milking while I am gone. and it will allow my farm sitter to milk while I am gone.
Do you still milk by hand? or do you have a powered milker?