Dairy Sheep

Revised December, 2018.

Overview

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. Most producers brand their products and market them to meet niche consumer demands.  

Sources

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 Sheep, ATTRA, NCAT.

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.

Sheep and Goats: Frequently Asked Questions - ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture

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

Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative.