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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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........ Milk
...In the dairy
...Dealing with milk

Much of what has been said about goats can be applied to keeping sheep for milk - with one important difference.

If you offer a milk-producing sheep hawthorn and brambles to eat, she will not appreciate it one bit. The heaviest yielders are lowland sheep and they like their traditional diet of rich lush grass. We have milked Jacobs as well as the more usual Friesland. The Jacobs managed to assume an astonished expression at the indignity but when they got used to the idea they enjoyed the extra feeding it gave them. With any animal, milk yields increase according to feed levels until you reach that particular 'animal's peak. It is no use pumping pounds of expensive concentrate into a goat that will physically only ever produce a couple of pints at each milking; a really good animal may well give you a gallon but that is dependent on your feeding her so that she can make the most of her genetic make-up.

A sheep gives less milk than a goat and to be profitable you should aim for at least twice the return for cow's milk. Very little sheep's milk is sold in liquid form although it is apparently more easily digested than goat's or cow's milk. Ewe's milk makes delicious cheese - blue like the delicious Roquefort or white and fresh. It has a specific acid flavour. It also makes delicious yoghurt but we like to drain this and make another type of soft cheese (see page 168). Specialist cheeses can sell through delicatessens and health shops but the vital factor to take into consideration is the appearance of the cheese after a few days. Like goat's milk soft cheeses, it may tend to weep. As with goat's milk cheese, the only way to avoid this is to be very careful about how you make it.