Friday, May 07, 2010

Sheep Milking - Revisited

Our last lamb was born Tuesday night. It was another boy. That makes all males lambs this year. Surprisingly it was a single from Maggie, a mother who has always given us twins. He is the largest lamb we've ever had though.

Maggie always has a lot of milk. With only one lamb nursing, her udder looks painful. Apparently this lamb also prefers one side, making Maggie a little lopsided. It makes me hurt to look at her udder.

You may remember that earlier this spring we had another sheep with a lopsided udder. We ended up milking her a few times. Her udder had a clog in it, and once we had that cleared and the teat back to a usable size, her lambs were more than happy to use both sides of her udder.

We thought maybe Maggie had the same issue. So, we milked her, but there was no clog. What there was was a lot of milk. Tim milked out almost two quarts from that one side. This morning she was looking miserable again, and Kellen and I tried to milk her. (We don't have a milking station set up, so this is quite the adventure.) Not exactly sure how much milk we got before Maggie kicked the bucket over and we gave up in frustration, but it was a lot again.

And the lamb still isn't interested in nursing that side. Maggie will call him to nurse, and she will nudge him to that side. He sniffs at the nipple and then goes to the other side. Poor Maggie.

Because she has so much milk and because there is only one lamb, I am seriously considering milking her regularly. I really don't have the time to add another project, but if we had a proper place to milk, and she got used to being milked, it really wouldn't be that big of chore would it? The other thing, besides free milk,  that is tempting me to make the commitment is the richness of the milk.

I know that it doesn't show up well in the photo, but I am pointing to the line where the milk and cream have separated. All I can think is butter....cheese....yum....

Someone talk me out of this madness....or convince me that it isn't madness... or come and milk my sheep for me!


  1. milk is expensive! If she lets you and the kids will drink it, I say you should milk her. Of course, I'm not the one who has to do it so it's easy for me to say! :)

  2. Now you know I wouldn't think that was madness :-) If you don't want to milk her you could put some ointment on the teat that the lamb wants to eat off might pursuade him to use the other. When ever I am done milking I use a mastitis spray and put on a udder balm....the little babies really don't like to eat off of it...guessing it tastes nast :-0

  3. Sheep milk is wonderful for cheese and sweet tasting to drink. If you have a ewe that allows you to milk her then consider it a blessing.

    I wish you luck.

  4. Maybe you could find an orphan for her, or some one with triplets, rare but it happens.

  5. I always wondered if it was feasable to milk sheep-that would make them a triple treat homestead animal-fiber, meat AND milk
    let us know how it goes

  6. Mary, I think it would be a good experience for your boys to come milk. ;)

    Kristen, Thanks that is a great idea.

    Chai Chai, The milk is good. She is not overly receptive to being milked but I think she would come around if kept with it.

    Bob, That is an idea too. It is a little late in the season though. Most ewes have already lambed, but I could put the word out.

    Hick Chick, Lots of people (outside the US) milk sheep. There are dairy breeds just like goats and cows. Ours is a meat breed, but she sure has A LOT of milk. I must admit, in shame, that I do not use the fiber...just the meat....and maybe now the milk. ;)

  7. Milking the lambs seems a grea idea on the surface what with more states passing laws allowing the sale of farm fresh milk directly to the consumer as long as it doesn't cross state lines. Besides, I remember having fresh milk (cream over the milk) delivered to our house when I was growing up. Papaw and Linda probably remember this.