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A Snapshot Of The Dairy Sheep Industry

This is part of a three article package. The others include:

*Move Over, Cheddar
*Meet Some Pint-Sized Milk Producers

* The nation imported 66 million pounds of sheep”s milk cheese in 1994, valued at $118 million.
* The nation has fewer than 100 sheep dairy farms. Wisconsin has 13 – more than any other state, and 13 more than we had a decade ago.
* Sheep”s milk contains 6 to 8 percent fat and 5 to 7 percent protein. It”s higher in total solids than either cow”s or goats milk, and yields more cheese.
* Sheep”s milk sells for about $.65/lb. compared to $.13/lb. for cow”s milk, but sheep produce far less milk. The cross-bred dairy ewes being milked in Wisconsin can average 3 lbs. per day over a 150-day lactation (Wisconsin cows average about 50 lbs. per day over a 305-day lactation). Fortunately, freezing sheep”s milk won”t hurt its cheesemaking qualities, so producers can stockpile milk until they have enough to ship.
* With a small investment in facilities, a sheep producer can increase gross income about 75 percent by milking sheep (compared with producing just meat and wool).