Sheep or Goats?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Menmyrc, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. Menmyrc

    Menmyrc Songster

    Mar 3, 2010
    Maricopa, AZ
    My children and I are allergic to cow's milk and have been considering either sheep or goats for milk. I HATE goat's milk from the grocery store but I have been told that fresh is not sour like that. I will have to try some for myself before I will believe them! I have eaten sheep milk yogurt and really like it, but it is difficult to find.

    Does anyone have any experience raising sheep especially, or at least goats for milk? I'm kind of leaning towards sheep because of my experience with the yogurt and also I think I will have an easier time getting the family to eat sheep meat over goat meat (although I've also heard goat meat is excellent).

    If you have experience, do you have any suggestions of a breed to start researching? I'm in AZ so heat tolerance would be of utmost importance. We don't need a lot of milk so the "heavy milk producers" probably aren't necessary. Meat quality will be important. Having wool to make yarn out of would be a serendipity, but not necessary. I do know how to shear a sheep from my 4H days as a kid!.

  2. OwensMom

    OwensMom Songster

    Oct 4, 2009
    CO Western Slope
    I have North Country Cheviots that I primarily use to train my Border Collies. We also use them for meat. I have no experience with milking sheep. I do know that when they freshen they have lots of milk for the lambs. The quality and taste of the meat is excellent. The wool staple is not optimal but hand spinners in our area use it. Their temperment is not docile but they are manageable. I do not want my sheep tame but I don't want them to run in terror of me either. I get the feeling that if you had only a couple and handled them form lambs, that they would be very manageable. I've had a number of different of breeds over the years and my favorites are the North Countries and Southdowns. Both meat sheep and both worth the experience. Happy Shepherding, Lynn
  3. lasergrl

    lasergrl Songster

    Dec 10, 2007
    Middlefield Ohio
    sheep milk isnt drinkable to most people. Its used for cheese mostly. East fresian is the breed for dairy.
  4. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Songster

    Apr 13, 2009
    You would probably want Nigerian Dwarf or Nubian goats. They have sweeter tasting milk. Also higher in butterfat for yogurt and cheese. I do have an Alpine/Nubian mix that gives me really good sweet tasting milk. A lot of it also depends on how you handle the milk and clean your equipment. The milk should honestly just taste like milk. You shouldn't taste a difference between goat and cow. People who can't drink cow milk can usually drink raw goat milk.
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Quote:I don't know....but I think you may be mistaken about the quality of the milk....lots of folks out there disagree. [​IMG]

    might suspect sheep's milk to be similar to goat's milk -- it is not!

    Sheep's milk tastes like cow's milk, it is just creamier due to its higher fat content.

    Unlike goat's milk, sheep's milk is not adversly affected by what the ewe forages on and the milk will not get stronger tasting when a couple of days old.

    Sheep’s milk can be a tasty and healthy alternative to traditional cow’s milk, particularly for the lactose intolerant individual. Here’s why you should be drinking it.

    In times past when it was time to add milk to cereal, you would automatically reach for the glass of cow’s milk that the milkman had delivered the day before. Now that the milkman doesn’t come to your house anymore, you have a myriad of milk choices available at your supermarket ranging from milk derived from animals to nondairy alternatives such as soy milk and almond milk. One sweet tasting and healthy milk that’s received less publicity than the other types is sheep’s milk. Once tasted, sheep’s milk is often preferred over both cow’s milk and goat milk due to its sweet creaminess. By comparison, cow’s milk is described as tasteless. What are the advantages of sheep’s milk over milk from a cow or goat?

    TasteAs already mentioned, sheep’s milk is described as tasting richer and creamier than cow’s milk without the faint tanginess of goat’s milk. If you’ve only drank cow’s milk, switching over to sheep’s milk may take an initial adjustment period but many people prefer its rich taste once they make the change.

    Up to seventy-five percent of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance, making it difficult for them to drink milk without symptoms of gassiness and diarrhea. Many people who suffer from lactose intolerance are able to enjoy sheep’s milk without symptoms even though they’re unable to drink goat’s milk or cow’s milk. Sheep’s milk as well as yogurt and cheese made from milk from the sheep may give the lactose intolerant individual the chance to enjoy milk again.

    Sheep’s milk is more nutritious than cow’s milk and goat’s milk. Although it contains higher levels of butterfat, it’s actually lower in saturated fat than other types of milk. The primary fats in sheep’s milk are the heart healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated variety. It’s also a source of medium chain triglycerides which may play a role in reducing cholesterol levels. Sheep’s milk is higher in calcium than milk from the cow or goat and is a rich source of other important minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus. Milk from sheep is also vitamin rich containing health amounts of vitamins A, D, and E. It’s a particularly good source of the B vitamins including folic acid. Sheep’s milk is also slightly higher in protein than other forms of milk.

    Although sheep’s milk is tasty when drunk by the glass, you can also enjoy in its other forms such as yogurt and cheese products. It makes a healthy and delicious ice cream. Although sheep’s milk can be difficult to find in some areas, health food stores and natural food markets may sell it. If not, you may be able to buy it from your local farmer’s market or online. Why not give this healthy milk a try?


    Menmyrc, any of the hair breeds do very well in hot climates and with the added benefit of not having to shear them. Their meat is supposed to have a real mild flavor due to the minimal lanolin content of their coats. Lanolin is what causes the woolly breeds to smell so strongly and sometimes this seems to carry over into the flavor of the meat.

    Here is a link or two about hair breeds and about all sheep breeds that you may find helpful:
  6. dutchhollow

    dutchhollow Songster

    May 13, 2008
    SW IA
    A couple of dairy breed does should do you well (I like Saanens), they will produce a lot of milk, but if you plan on making any cheese it takes gallons of milk. Borrow or take them to a boer buck to get bred, use the kids for you meat supply (a benefit of saanens is they are large and can easily kid the boer cross kids). The meat IMO is better then sheep (that whole lanolin smell thing), and I have never had bad tasting goat milk, you must chill it immediatly and get it as cold as you can as quick as you can. Goats are going to be more managable and easier to deal with (I have had both), and even my bottle raise sheep I can't imagine getting trained to milk (as in jumping up on the stand and waiting for me).
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Sheep milk is perfectly drinkable. And quite tasty IMO -- at least the milk from my Shetland. Very sweet and rich.

    The main knock against sheep as a milch animal is that they give less per animal and have shorter lactations than dairy goats or cows -- and this is *particularly* true if you step outside the coupla major dairy breeds of sheep.

    So if you wanted milk year-round you would have to do more "staggering the breeding times of multiple animals" (only even POSSIBLE with sheep that will breed year-round, which excludes many breeds) than you would with either goats or cows, and it becomes a bit more of a complex juggling act to make it all come out right.

    But in principle there is no reason at all not to go with sheep; that is what I did [​IMG]

    My decision was influenced considerably by a) sheep are a bit easier to fence, and b) I will not feel as bad sending lambs off to the abbatoir (or processing them for the freezer myself) as I would if it were goat kids, which I think are absolutely the cutest thing in the world. Also my m-i-l is a handspinner and has already got the fleeces off my two grown shetlands [​IMG] (The shetlands btw are not intended as my milking animals -- there are two British Milksheep X ewe-lambs waiting to be bred this fall by the shetland ram [​IMG])

    Good luck, have fun,

  8. Menmyrc

    Menmyrc Songster

    Mar 3, 2010
    Maricopa, AZ
    Thanks so much for all the opinions! I have a lot of homework to do. What started me looking at sheep is, in addition to my allergy, I am also lactose intolerant and have read that sheeps milk is more suited for those lactose intolerant. I know someone in my area sold hair sheep last year and the did brag that because there was no lanolin the meat was better.
  9. cafe

    cafe In the Brooder

    May 12, 2010
    West Central Indiana
    It's been a few years since I had goat milk but I don't remember it tasting bad, just kind of sweet. It triggered my lactose intolerance as bad if not worse than cow's milk. [​IMG] I could eat the cheese just fine, though. If I ever am able to get a place outside town, I'll be getting Nigerian Dwarfs as soon as I can talk my husband into it. [​IMG] Goats are the rottenest little buggers. [​IMG]
  10. Frogdogtimestwo

    Frogdogtimestwo Songster

    May 21, 2008
    I [​IMG] sheeps milk! We have cow milk allergies but have no issue with sheeps milk, it is creamy like drinking whole milk. We have St. Croix Hairsheep which are first and formost heat tolerant, easy keepers, parasite resistant, and just total sweethearts. They have fabulous meat due to little lanolin in their wool and they take care of shedding out their wool themselves, I highly recommend hairsheep for your purposes.

    this is a current ad out of Phoenix

    That is a fantastic price for this breed and they have a variety of bloodlines.

    The best part to me about our sheep compared to goats is they do not test the fence all the time, they are happy and content in their space unlike most goats . Also I must disclose I am not fond of goats milk at all but like goat cheese [​IMG]

    *eta a pic, how can you resist such cuteness, It was 101* outside and they were snuggling, silly sheep.
    Momma with this years twins.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010

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