Author Topic: How to milk sheep after lambing  (Read 5765 times)

Offline Erkki Juusto

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How to milk sheep after lambing
« on: March 05, 2012, 08:30:24 PM »
Dear Sheep dairy people,

We have purchased three sheep for milking - Freisian/Icelandic cross and blackbelly barbados sheep.  This is their second year of lambing and they are ready to lamb any day.

We wondered how most people with dairy sheep do the milking after lambing.  Do you let the lambs nurse on ewes for couple of days so they get the clostrum and then separate them?  Or do you put the lambs on ewes for part of the day?

We have experience with dairy cows and dairy goats, but the sheep thing is new to us.

We appreciate any input on this.

Offline anarch

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2012, 10:29:19 AM »
OK, I haven't *actually* milked my own sheep yet, but I am going with what my friend who I bought my 3 dairy sheep from does, and what I plan on doing in a few months too.

She lets them nurse exclusively on the ewes for 3-4 weeks, taking all the milk.  Then, milking starts at 3-4 weeks (this is when milk production peaks), where the lambs are kept with the moms either in the day or the night, you pick which one, when you'd like to milk, AM or PM.  So the lambs will nurse for half the day.  Then the milk generated in the other half of the day is milked.   It takes approx. 3-4 weeks for the lambs rumens to be developed enough to consume enough grass/hay/grain to compensate for the milk.

Then, after 60-90 days, you can wean the lambs 100%, and milk 2x a day and have all the milk if you like.  Or, you can keep lambs with them 1/2 time and keep milking only once a day (probably what I'll do, given all the demands on my time). 


Offline Erkki Juusto

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2012, 12:42:27 PM »
Hello Anarch,

You answered my question well. That is what I am going do.  I will post in a month or so how it all went.
Good luck with your lambing as well.



Offline anarch

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2012, 01:19:52 PM »
Yes, good luck with lambing!  I have a ewe about to lamb anyday now (not a dairy ewe though, a wool/meat sheep).  I'm excited!  Glad I could help.

Offline Erkki Juusto

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2012, 07:23:36 PM »
Thanks

Offline baabrandon

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2012, 01:11:09 AM »
It depends on your time restraints and lifestyle. You will get the most milk by weaning after 24 hours, but you have to give some milk back to the lamb.
See our sheep blog redhilldairy.blogspot.com

Offline Priestman

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2012, 07:51:20 PM »
I agree with Brandon, there are as many ways to get the milk and wean the lambs as there are shepherds. Anarch's program sounds as good as any.  I wean the lambs cold turkey at about 30 days, or if they don't seem quite ready at 30 days then shortly thereafter. 

Good luck with the animals--the milk is awesome.

Paul
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www.thebigfarmcreamery.com

Offline elkato

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2012, 09:14:58 PM »
Hello,  weaning systems for milk sheep fall in basically 3 groups first one lambs get colostrum from mothers for 1-2 days and then separated and raised on milk re placer, which is cheaper than milk, and is easy er on lambs and ewes.

 second one lambs stay with mothers for a month with access to creep feed the ewes milked 2x day after full weaning

third is the mix system where lambs are separated half of the day (or night) ewes milked 1x day for the first month then lambs weaned and milked 2x day
 on any of the systems dairy lambs get weaned from milk (real or re-placer) at 30 days, or triple their birth weight, which is +- 30 days (not 60 like meat breeds)  always with free access to high protein creep feed since 2 week.
if you get quadruplets it is very important to wean at second day feed with bottle  and milk ewe since the beginning because lambs will be very weak and wont get all the milk from the mother if nobody takes out all the extra milk the mother and probably all four lambs will die (just learned the hard way)
in the mix system also it is important to start milking in the first week just afther colostrum to avoid mastitis and challenge ewes into their milking potential paired of course with the right nutrition (don't copy diets from meat sheep or milk cows!!)
you will find tons of info here:
http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/Extension-New%20copy/sheep/Publications_and_Proceedings/res.html

Offline Erkki Juusto

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2012, 11:33:45 AM »
Dear All,

Thanks for all you input.  I find that I need to learn how sheep think as it all seems different from cows and goats.  We have 5 lambs from three ewes now.  We are planning to sell the lambs quite soon and then I plan to start milking them all.  All have nice udders so I am optimistic get some milk.  Next part of the project is to train the ewes to get into the stanchion.  We all looking forward to tasting the milk.  I would like to ask for links for fresh sheep cheese recipes.
Thanks again.  I enjoy all the various opinions, too.  They just remind me that creativity has always room in this operation.

Frotte La Tomme

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2012, 01:47:19 PM »
Howdy erkki.  Sheep have a gang mentality.  They dont want to be alone, and if you can one to do something, they will all follow suit, except the last one, who is all alone.  Not like goats at all. If you have only three, it isnt as obvious, seven is minimum for a herd mentality.  Try some hot chocolate with the milk, and you'll taste just what it is to be raw

Offline Erkki Juusto

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2012, 07:36:55 PM »
Dear All, I've trained 2 out of 3 to get into the milking stand. Last one, black sheep, is going to be a hog tie/rodeo roping effort. Thankfully she is smaller than our cows! Before we sell all the lambs, I wanted to taste the milk and try some fresh sheep cheese. I went to the local store and bought couple recommendations. One of them was particularly good tasting. The name was Cana de oveja. Does anyone know what this cheese is and how to make it? I would like to order cultures and try to make this or something similar. I am familiar with cow milk and some goat milk cheeses but sheep cheese is all new to me.
Any other good fresh sheep cheese recipes would do as well. 

Offline anarch

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2012, 03:45:59 PM »
I would recommend looking up traditional cheese recipes made with sheep milk such as Manchego, Roquefort. 

As far as fresh cheeses, I'd say just try some goat milk recipes with the sheep milk and see how it goes, then post with problems as they come up? 

I believe there are several sheep farming cheesemakers on the board, maybe post in a different forum for assistance?

(I'm not milking mine yet...)

Offline elkato

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2012, 07:39:53 PM »
I have never heard of a fresh cheese with that name, how is the appearance? You can make any type of cheese with sheep milk, I have done Gruyere, Camembert, reblochon, tomme, Greek yogurt, with success. you have the most important part which is fresh clean sheep milk!

Offline Erkki Juusto

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2012, 06:41:58 PM »
Hey Anarch and Elkato,

I think I misspoke about Cana de oveja- cheese being a fresh cheese. I think it was a variation from Camembert. Thanks for the input on type of cheese - I have made mozzarella, cheddar, feta, and chevre from goat milk.  I will try a goat cheese recipe from sheep milk.  I do need to back up a step though. I have a Friesan/Icelandic with a nice large udder. She is just not giving me any milk! I can't get a let down with a warm rag, massaging her udder, taking time, and talking to her. I even brought her lamb into the milking stand to get her going. She had twins and we sold one of the lambs.  Do you have any recommendations what to do? Our barbados ewe gave milk first try! I have not had the same problem with our dairy cows or goats.

Frotte La Tomme

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Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 06:23:46 AM »
Can you feel milk in there or is it more of a hard muscular utter?  How big are the teats?  You should empty the bag as best you can to releave that sheep via the lamb or two finger hand milking.