dairy production

I was interested (and felt vindicated too!) to see that the national response to predatory milk pricing by the milk wholesalers, potentially pushing dairy farmers past where they can make any profit at all, has been to boycott non-name branded milk in droves. The supermarkets are struggling to move it off the shelves, while sales of name brand milk (Pura, Browns, Harvey Fresh, etc., as well as smaller local brands such as Sunnydale and ?) have continued as normal. Consumers really do want to support farmers, and when a way to do so is offered which makes sense and is easy to do, I’m proud to say that we actually eat the small extra cost to make sure our farmers can stay in business.


Because of that, though, I’ve been thinking about milk and dairy animals again. Flavours and nutriotional comparison and production quantities of milk from cows vs. goats vs sheep. I’m not really sold on camel or donkey milk, but those are also valid options. There are lots of comparisons and descriptions available online, even some with flavour profile descriptions, but there’s no replacement for direct experience.


I’m tempted by dairy sheep, but I’m not 100% convinced that sheep’s milk is something I’ll enjoy. I should probably source some sheep’s milk yoghurt, and do a taste comparison with goat’s milk yoghurt and standard cow’s milk yoghurt. Ideally I should make the yoghurt myself using the same bacterial culture and the freshest milk I can get from each type of animal. I wonder if there’s anywhere in WA that I can get fresh sheep’s milk. Cambray Cheesery in nannup sell sheep’s milk cheeses made on farm using milk from their sheep, but it doesn’t look like they sell the milk itself. If I can’t source fresh milk, I can always do the comparison using Meredith Dairy yoghurts – their goat feta is amazing, so I’m fairly confident that the rest of their product line will be good.


Either way, would anyone be interested in doing their own taste test comparisons and sharing their thoughts?


  1. I’d be interested to know how easy (or not) it is to milk the various animals and what their production rate is compared to cows. A taste-test would certainly be interesting, but I only know of a possible goat milk source – not any of the others.

  2. Some stats for you:

    Dairy breed cow (Jersey): approx 6 – 25 L /day (5% butterfat)
    Dual purpose breed cow (Highland): 2 – 12 L/day (8 – 10% butterfat)
    Meat breed cow (Dexter): 4 – 10 L/day (4 – 6% butterfat)
    Dairy breed goat (Saanen): approx 6 L/day (2 – 4% butterfat)
    Dairy breed goat (Anglo-Nubian): approx 4 L/day (4 – 5% butterfat)
    Dairy breed goat (Nigerian Dwarf): 0.5 – 3 L/day (6 – 10% butterfat)
    Dairy breed sheep (Awassi or East Friesian): approx 0.5 – 2 L/day (6 – 8% butterfat)

    Butterfat percentage is useful for making cheese and yoghurt. Commercial ‘half and half’ (or half regular full cream milk and half cream) is about the same consistency as 10% butterfat milk.

  3. Cows and goats can be hand-milked or machine-milked without much trouble. Sheep are more skittish, and are apparently quite difficult to milk because if they get a fright the adrenalin stops the milk flow. This is sometimes managed with oxytocin injections, sometimes with more handling so the sheep are tamer and less frightened by the milking process.

    Within the machine-milking category there are small scale hand powered or battery powered machines and large commercial machines. The commercial machines for cows, goats and sheep are different, but some of the small-scale machines are multi-species or can have different milking attachments for the one machine to allow for milking more than one species. Small scale machines (like the ones we’d be looking at) cost around $80 – $150 US on ebay.

  4. Taste test completed, using Meredith Dairy plain (unsweetened) sheeps milk and goats milk yoghurt. Results are in. For me, cows milk yoghurt wins.

    The goats milk yoghurt was slightly sourer than the standard cows milk yoghurt I’m used to, but quite edible. No musky, ‘goaty’ flavour, and it was quite nice. I prefer the cows milk yoghurt I usually eat, but that’s more a texture thing – my favourite plain yoghurt includes Lactobacillus bulgaricus, so it has a creamier, less ‘grainy’ texture than most pot-set yoghurts.

    The sheeps milk yoghurt was odd. It tasted like.. yoghurt made from cream. There was no odd flavour, no unusual sourness, it was just super rich. And yet.. I didn’t like it at all. I think maybe it was just too rich for me. I honestly can’t say why I didn’t care for it, but I really didn’t. Unexpected.

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