Why Raise Dairy Sheep?
When looking for a Dairy animal in the US, many people immediately think of a cow, or increasingly, people have been choosing goats for small scale milk production. So why should one choose a dairy sheep if a cow or goat will do? Well there are quite a few reasons.
1. They're small and easy to handle - When comparing dairy sheep to dairy cows, the most obvious thing is that sheep are much smaller than cows. So they will eat less and cause less damage to pasture than a cow might. They also require less space and smaller housing. Dairy sheep and dairy goats are actually similar in this regard but there are a few positive aspects that set dairy sheep apart from dairy goats.
2. They are incredibly practical - Sheep are a truly triple purpose animal depending on the breed. They can be used for wool, meat and milk. Depending on how self-sufficient you are, a herd of dairy sheep can provide you with clothing from wool, meat such as lamb or sausage, milk, cheese, yogurt and even soap. No one goat breed offers these same benefits.
3. They won't destroy your landscaping - When it comes to ease of care, sheep are the winners. Sheep are much easier to contain than goats. They are much less mischievous. Sheep are also grazers so they prefer things that are growing close to the grown like grass and forbs. Whereas goats are mainly browsers and prefer trees and shrubs to grass. Sheep will also nibble on trees but if you are worried about your fruit trees and rose bushes, sheep will tend to leave those alone whereas goats will actively seek them out and devour them.
4. Their milk is better for cheese - The nutrient properties of sheep milk are different than those of cow and goat milk. Sheep's milk is typically higher in fat and protein than goat and cow milk. This makes sheep milk an excellent milk for cheesemaking. More cow and goat milk is required than the amount of sheep's milk to make the equivalent amount of cheese. So you need less of it to make cheese and the cheese typically has a stronger flavor than any cheese made from cow milk, similar to goat milk cheeses.