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GENERAL BOARDS => DAIRY FARM - Animals => Topic started by: Erkki Juusto on March 05, 2012, 08:30:24 PM

Title: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto 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.
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: anarch 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). 

Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto 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.


Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: anarch 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.
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto on March 06, 2012, 07:23:36 PM
Thanks
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: baabrandon 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
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Priestman 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
THE BIG FARM Creamery
www.thebigfarmcreamery.com (http://www.thebigfarmcreamery.com)
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: elkato 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 (http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/Extension-New%20copy/sheep/Publications_and_Proceedings/res.html)
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto 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.
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Frotte La Tomme 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
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto 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. 
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: anarch 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...)
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: elkato 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!
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto 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.
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Frotte La Tomme 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.
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto on April 01, 2012, 08:47:46 AM
Hello Frotte la Tomme,

She does have milk. Lamb is taking part of it, but there is more than one lamb can take. Teets are nice size - 3 to 4 inches. I can get a cup of milk twice per day.  She is just holding in the milk. Is this largely due to the fact and I am not a substitute for a lamb?
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Frotte La Tomme on April 02, 2012, 01:18:56 PM
If you hear the intestine gurgle when you milk, she is letting it loose.  Try milking while tickling her underside with and then with out her lamb.  One cup sounds small.  Are you a steady hand at hand milking?  good luck
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: elkato on April 03, 2012, 11:19:15 AM
Hello Erkki, I think you could have a case of mastitis known as "hard bags" I don't know much about it but I am looking at everything I can read because I have an ewe with the same problem. If you notice that the udder gets warmer or the animal seems ill it is time to start antibiotic treatment to save the ewe. I had one ewe that died when her Quadruplets didn't suckle enough milk and the udders became very hard. in your case maybe the one lamb could not get all the milk out. I hope I am wrong!
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto on April 03, 2012, 12:45:02 PM
Dear Frotte la Tomme and Elkato,

Thank you for input and concern. I have now managed to get all 3 ewes into milking stand. Yeah! Sheep are so funny as now they will go in even if I am standing in the way! I have managed to milk from all three ewes. Both East Friesian/Icelandic X hold very still and Barbados ewe is like trying to milk a tickly monkey. I milk East Friesian Xs from the back and Barbados with E-Z milker type (Equine med syringe converted to a milker. We use it with our goats).  All their udders are soft and almost empty. No heat or sign of mastitis.  I think their lambs are cleaning them out. We are planning to sell their lambs and then we should see and increase in yield.  How much milk would you think I should expect from our ewes per day? What do you recommend for a feed for a milking ewe?
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Frotte La Tomme on April 03, 2012, 01:19:51 PM
dairy animals are not as forgiving as meat or wool.  They need some grain to help with milk production.  Try a little barley, corn, and alfalfa if you have it.  Some people give whey to there animals.  A good milker should give you a liter, more in the after the lambs are gone.  For the kickers, using a low voice, they like that.
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto on April 05, 2012, 12:48:37 PM
Hey Frotte la Tomme,

Thanks for the feed suggestion. The whey is a very interesting idea. How much would you give per day per milking ewe?  Does the feed flavor sheep milk in any way? I've noticed with our dairy goats that the milk flavor is closely tied to what they eat. I have not noticed that with our dairy cows. I,however, don't know how feed affects sheep milk flavor. 
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Frotte La Tomme on April 06, 2012, 07:41:53 AM
a good ration is based on the amount of milk taken.  If you can milk around 3 liters you would have to feed accordingly.  If you feed for 3liters but take 1, you will give the herd a diet way too rich, they will fatten and get sick.  And perhaps stop making milk.  This is the difference between dairy and wool or meat.  Taste in the milk could come from using onions or cabbage for feed.  Corn silage will change the taste of milk as well.  Thats in gerneral for all milk.  Grass taste changes with location; species variety, rain, soil acidity, etc, so milk is afected by that as well.  Example; feed your animals garlic for a couple days, and your milk will become garlicky tasting.  Not great for developing yeasts nor bacteria.  Or milkshakes.
the rundown: correctly feeding is very complex, try 500g per day in equal portions to begin, but not all at once, progressively.
Title: Re: How to milk sheep after lambing
Post by: Erkki Juusto on April 28, 2012, 07:15:20 PM
Hello again,
Took awhile to get back. Spring is making us real busy again. Thank you for the input for the feed. I have recently been able to get brewer's spent grain to up the protein (35%), I am also giving alpha alpha, and three way with molasses. Milking goes now real easy. It takes 2-5 min to milk a sheep by hand. I do not get more than a pint/day per ewe. We will put them on pasture soon and hopefully this increase the yield. I must say that I love the taste of sheep milk!