Dairy Sheep

Revised April 2012 by Gary Brester, professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Montana State University, gbrester@montana.edu


Dairy sheep are used to produce milk as the basic ingredient to a variety of specialty cheeses such as Feta and Roquefort. Other products including ice cream and yogurt are produced from sheep milk. The use of sheep milk to produce cheese is an ancient practice developed in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. It is a relatively new niche industry in the United States. The market for these specialty cheese products is primarily located on the East and West coasts of the United States. In addition, sheep milk has lower lactose contents than ordinary milk which makes it more palatable for lactose-intolerant consumers.

Specific breeds of dairy sheep include British Milksheep, East Friesian, Lacaune, and Sarda. The actual number of sheep dairies in the United States is unknown, but estimates range from 75 to 100 producers. Wisconsin had 15 licensed milking sheep herds in 2010. Most producers brand their products and market them to meet niche consumer demands.  


America’s Sheepland,  Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative.

An Introduction to Dairy Sheep, Centre for Alternative Land Use, Bangor University.

British Sheep Dairying Association.

Dairy Farm Sustainability Checksheet, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT.

Dairy Resources, Maryland Small Ruminant Page.

Dairy Sheep, ATTRA, NCAT.

Dairy Sheep, Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development, University of Wisconsin.

Dairy Sheep, Scottish Agricultural College, UK.

Dairy Sheep Association of North America.

New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, Ashfield, Massachusetts.

Ohio MIlk and Cheese Initiative Explores New Market Opportunities in Ohio, North Central SARE, 2009 - To determine the level of interest and opportunities for the production of sheep milk and cheeses in Ohio, Abbe and Anderson Turner helped form the Ohio Sheep Milk and Cheese Initiative.

Principles of Sheep Dairying in North America, University of Wisconsin.

Sheep Management Programs, University of Wisconsin.

Sheep Milk Quality and Procedures, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Canada.

Sheep Program, Cornell University.

Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Sheep & Goat Review, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA.

Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative.

Links checked December 2013.