Ok, survey time! Goats or Sheep (for milking)?

mersiepoo(6)March 28, 2008

What would you get? I like them both! I would like them for milking...are goats easier to raise? Or sheep? They would be on pasture. I want to get them for milk and they are both so cute!

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Never having milked a sheep I would say goats. Also you don't have to shear them every year.To tell the truth I have no idea about sheep milking.Seems to me they would be much harder to keep clean. Have milked goats and found it very easy. But I'm sure there are probably lots of people out there who have milked sheep.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 5:57PM
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Goats for sure, hands down. Goats have a tendency to want to be milked and love a good schedule, when raised properly from the start.

Plus, a lot easier to keep the milk bucket clean, having longer legs, shorter hair its a lot easier for clean milk.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 10:59PM
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I have never looked that close. Do sheep have big enough teats to hand milk?
My favorite goat to milk is my lamancha. I have 2 lamanchas and they are so sweet and friendly. My alpine doe can be a real pain. She doesn't mean to be bad...she is just too busy for her own good...lol.
My pygmy doe was a pleasant suprise to milk. I had to milk her for about a week when I had one of her newborns in the house. She just stood there, no tie, no food, no milking stand. All goats should be that easy to milk. The problem was the size of her teats. It was way too much work for the amount of milk I got.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 12:27AM
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I had a salad once with chunks of sheep cheese in it (feta). Nastiest thing I ever tasted (even worse than parmesan)but that's just me. If you want sheep, you can get a breed that sheds. I think I'd go with the goats if I wanted to milk something. If a sheep was that great of a milker, I'd think youd hear more about it.

Have Fun.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 6:50AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

There are breeds of sheep, bred to be used for milking. I know there are some of them here in the USA, but most of them are European. While importing sheep probably isn't on your horizon, you could google and see what came up.

That said, I think that starting out you might do better with goats: they are also social creatures, and you would need more than one, but you could more easily find milking goats, you could find a male (billy/buck) for breeding more easily, and they would probably produce more milk. I don't think any of the "haired sheep" breeds (not needing shearing as they also shed naturally in the spring) were bred for milking - in fact, I think many of them are best described as "flighty"! Against goats in the goats vs. sheep debate is that you would NEED good fencing, probably better than for sheep. However, I think that goats would be the way to go. Once you get experience with them and feel comfortable with the idea, and have something to do with any extra milk (soap, cheese, etc., etc.) - and decide if you WANT to carry on - then you could look again for sheep to milk.

Dave, some feta cheeses are made with other milks, although many are sheep's milk. Feta CAN be a different taste, which can vary according to who/what milk produces it, and according to the time of year and what the animals were eating. It can also, in some batches, NOT taste good. I used to not like it, but now I do - so don't write off all feta cheeses on the basis of one tasting. After all, how many of us liked olives, mushrooms, or even lobster at our first taste? It was usually after a few tastes that we decided they were good.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 11:47AM
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lindakay(zone 5)

We have sheep. Once in a while we will have to milk one for the colostrum if the lamb can't suck. They are very hard to milk because for one thing they don't want to be milked and there teats are to small. It is a messy job unless you just strip them with two fingers. I guess it is still messy. The milk is super rich. The first milk is even sticky. I have never ever, ever, tasted it . Not on purpose anyway.:o( Linda

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 2:14PM
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Hey, I wanted to thank everyone for their responses! A lot of great info here, thank you! I am going to go with goats! :)

I can't wait! I ordered the book Storey's guide to raising milk goats, should be coming in the mail soon.

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 7:07PM
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I have considered milking sheep, only because of the laws here in Canada. Goat's milk and cheeses fall under the dairy laws, the same as those from cow's milk, and can't be sold privately. Sheep's milk and cheese doesn't so sheep's milk cheese can be sold at a farmers market.

I suppose the taste of sheep's milk depends on a lot things, just like goat's milk - cleanliness for one. If you keep a male goat anywhere near the females, the milk taste HORRIBLE. You have to keep the males a long way from the females, or not at all. You only need one for the yearly breeding. They're not much good for anything else. (Does this apply to all males? Hmmmm, interesting thought...lol!) Just kidding guys.

If you plan to sell the milk and cheese you might want to look into the laws in your area.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 6:52AM
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Runningtrails, how far away do you have to keep the bucks from the does? Like 100 yards, or more? Or less? Is it helpful to keep them downwind (the bucks)? I read the book Raising milk goats, but it doesn't tell you many specifics. I got spoiled by Gail Damerow's guide to raising chickens. She has so much info, it's unreal, ha ha!

Sadly in the USA, you can't sell any home made cheese at farmers markets, at least not where I am at. You can sell meat, but it's got to be slaughtered at a USDA inspected slaughterhouse and it's expensive (Not to mention that the place we took ours to helped themselves to most of the pork ribs and didn't tell us).

I'd be using it for ourselves (the milk) and for friends and anyone who wouldn't be scared to try it, ha ha!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 3:21PM
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Mersiepoo, You've got to remember that a good milk goat will produce almost as much milk as a good milk cow, so you will need to figure out how to get rid of your excess production. If you pastuerize it you should be able to use it in making soaps and lotions, or make up some cheeses for your own use. The big problem with both goat and sheep's milk cheeses is that most "Foodies" want the unpastuerized varieties, which is virtually illegal to produce in this country for sale to a third party.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 9:41PM
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Hi Kevin! I know it's generally illegal to produce unpasturized stuff for sale in the USA. Silly but true.

I wasn't planning on using the milk for making cheese to sell to the public. I won't pasturize the milk for my own use, especially after reading about how the heating destroys beneficial enzymes and vitamins in the milk...and that it's totally unnecessary. This is why I'm planning on getting an animal (goat, most likely, probably a Nigerian Dwarf) for milk. It's very difficult to buy what you want in the US, unfortunately. I'm also trying to stay away from overprocessed food, which is tough to do these days.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 11:51AM
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Mersiepoo, I agree with you that there are way too many over processed foods on the market, and for home use unpastuerized milks and cheeses are not usually a problem. The thing you'll have to keep in mind is that you must keep your goats in top shape (free of disease and absolutely clean during milking) in order to prevent contamination of the milk by various organisms. Pastuerization came about as a means of extending the shelf life of dairy products and to eliminate organisms that can cause illness in those who consume the product. While I agree with you that high heat pastuerization does kill off many beneficial enzymes and organisms within dairy products you do not have to raise the temperature of the milk to as high a level as what many producers used to do. In fact the new pastuerizers used by some commercial producers do not even use heat, thier equipment uses UV light. Unfortunately I do not know of there being any home pastuerizers on the market that use this method.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 3:04PM
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A wonderful book to read is "Nourishing Traditions" By Sally Fallon. Also The Milk book is supposed to be good too.

There was some study where an organic farm inoculated raw milk with salmonella and e coli bacteria. The bacterias were not able to grow in the milk!

Here is a neat article you might find interesting, here is a quote:
Invariably, whenever raw milk is condemned, pasteurization is presented as the only path to salvation from milk-borne pathogens such as E. coli 0157:H7. Interestingly, however, the official government anti-raw milk statements and reports never seem to mention the numerous outbreaks of food-related illness associated with pasteurized milk that also occur every year. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that pasteurized milk may even be more likely to cause illness than the raw stuff.

I don't believe everything I hear, especially if it is coming from a government agency. Humans have survived for thousands of years on raw milk.



    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 9:08PM
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The male goats urinate all over themselves constantly and the females they are mating with. You will know by the smell how far away to keep them and it's a LONG way! Their smell will permeate everything around, including the milk and anything else nearby. The folks I know with a few dairy goats for milk just have females and young ones. They take the females to another farm for mating when they come in heat. If the kids are male they sell them before they get very big. You could also put them in the freezer.

Mature bucks can be very aggresive and hard to tame, as well, but that might depend on the breed. If you get a fertile buck, you will need to keep him way out in a large pasture, but not by himself. A whether makes a good companion for a fertile buck. I don't think you want to put two fertile bucks together as they might fight a lot.

You can also shear some goats, or comb them when they shed. Mohair (from Angoras) and Cashmere both come from goats.

I have not kept goats myself, but have friends who do. I am considering it for when I have more time, though. I'd like milk and cashmere. I want a spinning wheel :-)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 6:56PM
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I have also considered keeping sheep for grass control and milk/cheese that I can sell at the "farm gate". Due to the laws and marketing boards here in Canada, I cannot sell any goat milk products to anyone or even trade it to a neighbor, but I can products from sheep milk, for now anyway. I can also spin the wool on my spinning wheel, when, and if, I get one. Just one more thing on a long list.

Maybe I'll have a few of each...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 7:35AM
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