Like all livestock, every sheep breed can be milked, however, there are several types of sheep that produce more milk than others. The East Friesian breed, originating in Germany is considered the highest preforming milk breed in the world. Along side the Friesian, the Awassi breed in the Middle East region produces large amounts of milk while living on pasture that most animals would be unable to survive. Another famous milk breed, found in France, is the Lacaune. The Lacaune produces slightly less milk than Friesians but a higher milk solid ratio, making their milk perfect for the famous Roquefort Cheese. In Europe and the Middle East, sheep milk and cheese is far more popular than in the United States. It is not only easier to digest than cows milk it is very nutrient dense containing vitamins A, D, C, E and healthy fats.
It is sad that the speicalized milking sheep are predominatly settled outside the U.S. What is a sheep loving farmgirl to do when she wants to milk her sheep?
Thankfully since all sheep can be milked and my main attempt is to obtain nutritious raw milk rather than a large volume of milk, there are options for sheep milking here in the States. Icelandic sheep are a hardy grass-fed breed that do not need grain supplementation as East Friesians do while being milked. Dorst, Polypays are two other North American breeds that have higher milk volumes. But again, remember that all sheep can be milked, so pick a breed that you like for various reasons such as: meat, wool, hair, personality, lambing, milk, hardiness, etc.
Note: Being a breastfeeding mom myself, I believe it is essential to allow lambs their time to bond with their mother as well as consume their mother’s milk for their own health and wellness. Allowing at least 2 months would be ideal, but sadly most operations wean lambs at 20 days and milk twice a day for optimum milk volume.
See Also: Drinking Sheep vs. Goat Milk