I did a good search on these boards for anyone doing dairy sheep, found some good first hand info, but not too much there. It's something I'm really interested in, but I can't find any really good resources on the web for such. Tiny local library has The Shepherd's Guidebook (1921) by Margaret Bradbury, so I'll check that out this week. It seems that the sheep bred for milk production are sort of rare, and hard to get a hold of in the states? And there's been confiscations of said sheep by the agencies? Such a shame if so. It seems like there is a lot of possibilities with dairy sheep (selling lamb, cheese, maybe wool, keep some of each for the family).
I recently tried sheep's Gouda at the legendary Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, MI which was incredible! One of few places I know you can buy true lacto-fermented krauts and veggies and raw milk cheeses in a deli setting.
I think the hardest part would be getting the right breed, I'd want a cold-hardy good milker (settling in Northern MI). I don't know how hard that would be to get ahold of, let alone import.
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I think the problem is that you are in the wrong country
Here in France having sheep for milk is quite common and the taste of the cheese and yoghurt wonderful I can even buy it in my local supermarket .
Do you read French ?I could probably find you some french web sites that could help .
I have been told that the breeds of sheep are quite distinct of the issue of meat , wool and milk . The breeds tend to be good at one and soso on the other two its also quite labour intensive and production wise not as good as cows or goats per acre but then it is a premium product . Productivity can be helped by grazing sheep and goats together . Also the goats tend to have strong views on the roll of foxes in society if thats an issue where you will be so having a mixed flock gives some protection .
Have you thought of trying Canada ? I would not be surprised if some french person has not exported some sheep there to make cheese.
I have also been advised that milking machines for sheep and goats are different so dont forget to bare that in mind when costing this out .
They are not so rare in the US. Knucklehead sheep farm in Indiana had some advertised on craigslist. i have a dairy ram (lacune/freisian) that a friend is selling for me for $200 dollars if you are interested. He is from Good shepherd Sheep Dairy in KY. They may have some for sale as well. Their is dairy sheep research going on in Wisconsin and i am sure other places as well. Good luck with your dairy sheep venture they are wonderful critters.
If you are looking for a winter-hardy, triple-purpose sheep you should check out the Icelandic breed. I'm not sure how prevalent they are across the U.S., but I've found several breeders here in NY. I'm planning to get some Icelandics myself soon. I, too, had a sheep's milk cheese years ago that was the best ever and I can't forget it. I'm going to try to recreate it someday.
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