They’re milking what?? Ohio’s first sheep dairy is up and running

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MOUNT GILEAD, Ohio —Some dairy farmers say no two milking parlors are the same, and for one Morrow County farm, that is definitely true.

First, it’s in a building that looks like a greenhouse, but as you enter it, you see instead a milking parlor, complete with a milking station set up for six. Except it’s obvious a cow can’t be milked in the small setup.

Nope, this parlor is designed for sheep.

Welcome to Sippel Family Farm, the first sheep dairy in Ohio.

Veggies came first

Ben and Lisa Sippel started a produce farm, selling by direct market and through their Community Supported Agriculture system, in 2000.

A CSA directly connects farmers and consumers. In most models, consumers can pay a monthly fee and the farmer provides them with a certain amount of product for that subscription.

The Sippels started the vegetable gardens on land that had previously been pasture land for more than 40 years. Lisa said they owe their vegetable business to the organic matter left behind in that plot of land. Today, they grow 40 kinds of lettuce, carrots, peas and other vegetables on their farm and in greenhouses on their property. In addition, the farm also features an orchard with 300 semi-dwarf apple trees.

They sell only what they produce and grow themselves. “If we don’t pick it, then we don’t offer it to our members,” Ben said.

They purchased their 77-acre farm in January 2004. Both were only 23 at the time and neither of them had been raised on a farm. Lisa was born and raised in Worthington, Ohio, and Ben was also from the Columbus area. Both had went to college in the area and Ben worked on a farm during that time and grew to love agriculture.

Why sheep cheese?

The couple knew they needed more than what they were producing in order to keep their CSA profitable year-round. Ben said they were going to the farmers markets regularly and, as long as the weather was decent or there were no events going on, they could sell all of the vegetables they were taking.

But if something went wrong, they would end up bringing produce home and composting it due to no sales. They realized their direct marketing and CSA plan could use some tweaking.

So the couple decided they needed a durable product that would keep no matter what. They needed something they could take with them to the farmer’s market and bring back with them without a loss if it didn’t sell.

Their answer: producing cheese.

Today, both Ben and Lisa work full-time on the farm. It took awhile to build the farm so that it could support the family entirely. Up until their son Charlie was born in 2007, Ben worked full-time running the farm and Lisa continued to teach.

But it is not a quick and easy process to start producing sheep cheese.

The Sippels realized their farm was not big enough to raise dairy cattle for the purpose of making cheese, and for various reasons, the Sippels felt goats were not for them. And then, they thought about what could be a good animal to have around their young son, Charlie. That’s when they decided sheep were the way to go.

Cheesemaking

Lisa went to work taking a cheesemaking course with her brother, Ben Baldwin, and her husband started researching everything they needed to know. Baldwin hopes to join the operation later this year.

Lisa practiced making cheese for a year and half before they mastered the process and they began production. There are two kinds of sheep cheese produced. One is called a Tomme and the other is a European Farmstead cheese.

She added that the farm is still experimenting on some different cheeses to make, however, they are making cheese and will have some for sale later this summer. They are also making two kinds of cow’s milk cheese with milk from local producers Ed and Marvin Ruhl.

The process from milk to cheese on the Sippel Farm takes between 60-90 days before it can go to the market.

An interesting fact about the sheep cheese is that it is generally all white but very high in fat, compared to cow cheese which is yellow when high in fat.

Marketing

Lisa admitted the sale of the cheese is much easier for an operation like hers than it would be for a grain producer. She said the thought of direct marketing to customers can be very scary for some farmers, but in their operation, the cheese is just one more item added to the CSA or farmers market menu.

“If the tables were turned, though, and I had to depend on the commodity markets like grain farmers, then that would scare me,” she said.

Starting a flock

In the meantime, Ben and Lisa also had to look for sheep to start a flock. They visited Vermont and New York, and purchased two flocks. One is primarily the Friesian breed (from the same part of Europe as the Holstein Friesian cattle breed) and the other is the Lacaune breed. The Lacaune genetics are similar to the Jersey breed of cattle in that the Lacaune genetics increase fat in the milk.

Milk production started in April of this year, when the ewes lambed. Their top producer is making one gallon a day, which, Sippel admits, isn’t going to sound like much to a traditional dairyman. They are currently milking 30 head of sheep once a day.

“We knew we wouldn’t have the volume of milk needed for awhile,” Ben said. But he added the volume is growing and they are producing cheese.

In addition, a sheep dairy can grow in size faster than a cow dairy because of the number of multiple births sheep are known for. Ewes born this spring will be ready to join the milking flock next spring, and will increase the herd size to 60 in 2012.

The Sippels say milk production gains steadily after the first lactation in sheep and keeps growing for four years. Milk sheep generally have their peak production in the fourth year. The goal for milk production is for a ewe to produce 30 pounds in 30 days.

Designing the parlor

There were other things to do, too, including constructing a building, finding refrigeration coolers and utensils to produce large amounts of cheese and… learning to care for and milk the sheep.

Ben said he read everything he could get his hands on from the University of Wisconsin (the only land grant university with a dairy sheep science center) about sheep dairies and talked to the professors in the programs about the process. They also visited sheep dairies and found out how they worked.

Ben went to work designing the milking parlor from the information he gathered. In their six-stanchion parlor, sheep are walked up the ramp and a milking machine is attached to the udder. The milk is gathered in buckets and then carried to the milk cooler.

The dairy is regularly inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and must submit to the same regulations as Grade A cow dairies.

Difference in dairy

Sheep require less vacuum pressure than dairy cattle, but require 120 pulses per minute, which is double the number of pulsations used to milk a cow. Sippel said the ewes need a really fast speed in order to properly stimulate the udder.

Sippel said there are many other benefits to milking sheep including the fact that they can milk out in about 60 seconds. In Europe, the average sheep dairy milks 700 in an hour.

Growing popularity

He added sheep dairies are more popular in Europe than in the United States, but Wisconsin has the most in the States, with approximately 35 in operation there.

The Sippels plans on building the dairy, and say their ideal number is between 125-150 milking sheep in the flock.

About the Author

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fosterk96. More Stories by Kristy Foster Seachrist

52 Comments

  1. There is no more necessity for sheep’s milk than goat milk than cow’s milk than camel’s milk. These mammary secretions are intended for the ingestion of offspring… Nonhuman animal babies – Not UNWEANED adult humans. Absurd and frivolous exploitation of yet more animals all for the sake of the mighty dollar. Pathetic.

    • Brian Williams, DVM says:

      Ms. Elliott that is your opinion. Animal milk has been consumed thousands of years. These animals produce much more than any offspring can handle. Yes we helped selcted these traits, but the have always been their. If we did not milk these animals they would die from infections in the mammary gland. Milk is an excellent nutritional source for all species. These animals are not exploited, but are well cared for. Many of the cows that I work on, including my own have names. Tears are often shed when one has to be sold or dies. You do not hear farmers attacking you saying you are exploiting vegetables, as they too are also living organisms.

      • TY says:

        Our kitties loved to “exploit” that cow milk too! So did our hogs who got the spoiled stuff. I think Bea needs to “educate” them….LOL!

      • Derek says:

        “Exploiting vegetables” ?? What does that possibly mean? Vegetables are not sentient. They do not have a nervous system. How could one exploit a plant?

        Your arguments about milk are unfounded. Milk is not essential for human nutrition. It is not necessary to forcibly impregnate these animals just to satisfy human desire for milk and cheese.

      • “Animal milk has been consumed thousands of years.”

        I don’t know how basing any hope of progress or sustainability can be found in clinging to ancient habit that we are now discovering are not only unhealthy, unnecessary but also unethical.

        “These animals produce much more than any offspring can handle. Yes we helped selcted these traits, but the have always been their. If we did not milk these animals they would die from infections in the mammary gland.”

        Sure… But if we didn’t “breed” them to begin with none of this would be an issue would it? Please stop placing the puppy in the burning building and then fretting on ways to save him. ;)

        “Milk is an excellent nutritional source for all species.”

        Are you a DVM or a nutritionalist? Please name something that cow’s milk, goat’s milk, rabbit’s milk, or sheep’s milk benefits humans nutritionally that can’t be found in flax milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, etc. After all… All the mammary secretions are “fortified” just like the plant based milks. So what is so “necessary” that can’t be gotten elsewhere? Without the negative impacts of animal use?

        “These animals are not exploited, but are well cared for. Many of the cows that I work on, including my own have names. Tears are often shed when one has to be sold or dies.”

        Oh yes… I’m sure most “producers” “cry” all the way to the bank. Really? Animals in dairy production actually live out their entire lives and “die” at a ripe old age? Or are you confusing a dairy with a sanctuary?

        If you were honest you’d admit that they are “well cared for” up until the time they are no longer good “investments”. Once their usefulness declines they’re sort of hamburger meat… Or chops… ribs whatever. True? So where did the loving “kindness” go?

        “You do not hear farmers attacking you saying you are exploiting vegetables, as they too are also living organisms.”

        But you’re wrong… I do hear that an awful lot – I hear that the cabbage hurts, or the peas scream in pain! We know that’s childish thinking though, and it’s really a defense mechanism to discredit any valid points that animal killing exposes.

        With no disrespect Mr. Williams… Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine – But I’m sure your biology classes must have covered the distinction between animal/vegetable and mineral right? We can exclude the latter two as having no central nervous system. No awareness of the world. They, (rocks and carrots), are not sentient – Like us. Like sheep, pigs, cows and dogs are. I’m surely certain that my vet knows that dogs and cats (chickens and goats) are more than “organisms”.

        If you have any doubts about animal sentience you might want to explore the works of Jane Goodall, Dr. Jonathan Balcombe on Our Relationship to Animals or Marc Bekoff – Animal Behavior and Emotions. Their research might be enlightening to you. ;)

      • Hi TY! Great to run into you again. Actually our last conversation got cut off before I could respond – But I did so on my blog:
        beaelliott.blogspot.com/2011/06/farm-dairy-silver-spurs-these-are-free.html

        I appreciate the challenge to find more information about the renewable “useful” disposal of human carcasses. I gathered some valuable information that it’s not only possible but is a reality in many parts of the world. Learn something new every day…

        Now, about kitties drinking cow’s milk… Sure that happens — When we brought our little puppy Tucker home he couldn’t get his fill of “yummy morsels” found in the cat litter box. And my chickens love dog poo! :/ It is true that in many areas of thinking and reasoning we ace nonhumans. But are you suggesting that we copy their instincts and lack of good judgement?

        I’m not after “educating” nonhumans. They’re smart enough for their own purposes. But sadly, silly humans insist on harming the innocent when there are alternatives not to. Seems to me that it is us, who could use the wising up! ;)

      • Tumeria Langlois says:

        Bea is absolutely right! Every mammal on the planet produces the right and perfect milk for it’s offspring. Cow’s milk is for baby cows, cat’s milk is for baby kittens and human breast milk is for human infants. Once old enough, the baby is weaned and moves on to an adult diet (except for humans!) Don’t you think it is even the least bit strange that we consume the milk of another species and drink it into adulthood? If you did not milk these animals they would get infections in the mammary gland? Where did you get that one? The milk would simply dry up. Nature designed it this way in case the baby dies. “Milk is an excellent nutritional source for all species”. Sure, for the infant animal with an immature digestive system. How can you say these animals are not exploited? What happens to the males which can not be milked? What happens to these animals when milk production declines? Are they allowed to live out their lives on the farm? NO, they are sent to slaughter! Are the babies allowed to be with their mothers, to be nursed and nurtured by them? No, they are stolen from the mother so we can steal the baby’s milk. If you want to drink milk, find a human nursing woman and ask her if you can suckle on her. I think the least that would happen is you would get your face slapped! LOL. Time to get weaned I would say. You can’t stay a baby all your life.

      • veganelder says:

        You write: “These animals are not exploited, but are well cared for. Many of the cows that I work on, including my own have names. Tears are often shed when one has to be sold or dies.” Goodness, what hypocrisy and silliness. You might want to look up the word exploited, of course you are exploiting them. Naming them and then tearing up when you cause their death is no mark of compassion or caring on your part. If you genuinely cared about the animals you would not allow them to become pregnant, you would not take their milk, you would not “sell” them when they become unprofitable for you. Grow up, you want to make money off of these animals and that’s what you are doing, their best interests or desires do not impact your behavior at all. Sort of depressing to see someone claiming advanced degree(s) to be so disingenuous.

      • FED-UP &PO'd farmer says:

        Brian-you will find out that you are just wasting your time trying to rationalize with these self-rightous egocentrical vegan zeolots. If you go to past posts (as well as reading their recent posts here), you will see that they feel they are above GOD and/or “mother nature”, and feel that THEIR viewpoint is the ONLY correct way of living. They have gone as far as calling us dairy farmers “theives” and “murderers”-even though they hippocritically twist and contort facts to fit their lifestyle (it is OK for them to brutally consume and kill plants but it is evil for people to kill lower life forms of animals for food) They arrogantly attempt to force their beliefs on others-and even though I can care less what they eat-it is that very reason we must NOT let them rob us of our freedoms to raise and use animals for a nutritious and necessary part of our diet as GOD and/or “mother nature” has deemed proper.

      • Hello FED-UP &PO’d farmer – I believe I addressed your issues concerning what any of the “god’s” may or may not have wanted in the previous article. You are hinging an awful lot of “your beliefs” on “your god” that you can neither prove exists at all — Let alone the interpretations of what he/she may have said/intended millions of years ago.

        Really, if you see this point you will know that it is YOU who demand the world live by YOUR code and YOUR creed and YOUR ideology. Please have an open mind enough to realize there are other points of views and different perspectives that aren’t meant to “take away your freedom” but rather to enlighten us all as to the possibilities of a better way of living.

        You keep saying that raising/killing animals is no different than harvesting plants – But that is totally wrong as explained previously there is no “central nervous system” for us to worry about. I challenge your belief that meat is “necessary” to consume. Thus far you’ve provided nothing as “proof” except that God/mother nature wanted it this way… Well that could excuse/allow a whole host of evil deeds now couldn’t it? Please provide more substantial arguments so that I can better understand your logic. Thanks.

    • TY says:

      I like to think its yummy exploitation for my tummy!

  2. okiestorm1 says:

    Bea. just couse you don’t drink it don’t mean others shouldn’t.People have a right to eat or drink what ever they want.Goat milk and cow milk are actualy my favorite.People that are allergic to cow milk can still drink goat milk, there alot of childrn born that can not drink thier mothers milk or formula but can still drink goat milk.I don’t know about sheep never been around one but I think this is a good thang, and as far as thier offspring go,you must not know much about milk cows,goats,or sheep cause they make enough milk in one day to feed alot of offspring even though cows usualy only have one maybe two at a time,goats can have up to 5 at a time but usualy only 2 to 3, sheep can have 4 but usualy only 2. I raise milk goats,Lamancha and mine usualy have 2 to 3 kids and I still have to keep some of them milked so they dont get so full that they get mastitis and get sick and die!

    • “Bea. just couse you don’t drink it don’t mean others shouldn’t. People have a right to eat or drink what ever they want.”

      Perhaps a “legal right” yes. But I also have an obligation as a decent human being to speak up for those who are in no position to speak for themselves. That would be the animals “used” for profit.

      “I raise milk goats,Lamancha and mine usualy have 2 to 3 kids and I still have to keep some of them milked so they dont get so full that they get mastitis and get sick and die!”

      May I ask what you do with the males? Or what do you do when you have too many females? Or what do you do with the “milk goats” when they “dry up”? Thanks for a response.

      • Josh says:

        I can’t speak for TY, but I can tell you what I do with my goats. I have dairy goats, and yes we breed them for no reason other then to get milk. We find that we can not only save money by raising dairy goats to supply our milk and cheese, but also we have a much healthier product then what we can buy in the store. When my goats produce kids I take care of them as though they were going to remain in our herd. If they are males I sell them eventually or butcher them, but while I have them they are well fed, and get lots of attention. When we butcher an animal we do it quickly, and with as little pain as possible. If they are does then I evaluate them to either keep in my herd or sell to someone else that is looking for a dairy goat. I doubt my goats feel exploited. They get lots of attention each day, and they follow me around when I let them out, so they must not be to upset with my “exploitation.” I brush them daily, and if they show any signs of illness we treat them immediately. Honestly I get a doctor for my goats far more often then for myself.

        I understand there are people out there that think it’s murder to butcher and eat animals, and that’s fine with me, but I’d appreciate if they would be as accepting of my choices as I am of theirs.

  3. Kathy says:

    Love it! Can’t wait till the sheep cheeses get to the Cleveland area. I know of a lot of folks here in the Slow Food group would love to try their locally raised, fed and made cheese. I sometimes wish my breed of sheep was a dairy breed just so I could try making a simple cheese recipe. Perhaps one day I will get a few dairy ewes just to try it.

  4. okiestorm1 says:

    Bea, the old goats that I have that are dry that don’t even breed anylonger are mu very first goats ever and they will die here. they young ones I sell,billys, and nannys as pets,pasture cleaners and meat, as for the excess milk, I use it for bottle calves if i have any at that time or on ther baby goats that may have a mom that pushed it away or just can’t take care of it by her self’ I also like useing it for cooking and bakeing and in my coffee. the money i get off the goats at sale go toward feed and hay for the rest of them and my cows. any thing else you wana know!!And some goats and cows just don’t dry up with out some help,do not say things you know nothing about, addressed toward Tumeria.I have raised goats for 8 years I know what Iam talking about and not from reading books from hands on experiance, there is a big differance!

    • And as far as goat or cow milk being useful for human mothers who cannot breast feed their infants- There are dozens of organizations that collect human breast milk for this purpose… As I’m sure you know, centuries ago humans used “wet nurses” – It’s the same principle but without the cow/goat/or sheep.

      “Bea, the old goats that I have that are dry that don’t even breed anylonger are mu very first goats ever and they will die here.”

      **** Ah – So they are the “lucky” ones that have your kind sentiments to be reprieve from the customary fate of “old goats”.

      I know a lovely story of some folks who used to raise goats and who had a change of heart. The money and “production” did not mean so much as the lives any more.
      peaceablekingdomfilm.org/

      Seems so sad to pick and choose which life matters and which is “meat”. As I’m sure you’ll agree no one wants to die. :(

  5. okiestorm1 says:

    AR people and vegans need to know that I understand they are trying to help the animals but closeing down dairys and processing plants are not helping these animals, it is destroying them. Dairy and meat are the reasons theses animals exist,if they nolonger have a purpose, then they nolonger will be needed and will nolonger exist on this planet.Those that say mother nature will take care of them is full of it. she dose not provide my livestock with food in the winter,I do or they they would all starve to death.Look what has happened to the horses since you all worked so hard to get the plants closed for horse slaughter.You all got what you wanted without thinking of the horses and now they are paying for it.

    • Hi okiestorm1 – You say that c”loseing down dairys and processing plants are not helping these animals, it is destroying them. Dairy and meat are the reasons theses animals exist,if they nolonger have a purpose, then they nolonger will be needed and will nolonger exist on this planet.”

      But that is the point… Most “live” only a tiny fraction of a life… It is no secret that millions of cow dairy calves are sent to slaughter with their umbilical cords still attached — Trying to nurse the fingers of the hand that leads them to the kill floor. You say this is a “life worth living”?

      Creating life just to kill seems monstrous. The pigs and chickens that live their entire 45 days or 6 months in a windowless building, trapped within a cage… You call this a life worth preserving???

      As with the issues of horse “overpopulation” – If we simply stopped using their flesh as a commodity, we would not have the power of these “god-like” decisions over innocent life. The majority of these beings aren’t here by “nature” but rather forced through AI and the greed of dollars.

      Many, many live fine without the want of dairy/eggs or meat – Your justifications fail to address continuing a cruel practice without “necessity” to do so.

      • TY says:

        Animal life is not “innocent” nor “guilty” for that matter…there is no such construct in nature.

        Again I will repeat: As the highest order life form, we have the natural right to use animals and plants as we see fit. Wether it is “necessary” or not is irrelevant, as long as the animal is used. That caveat is because In nature, few animals kill for the sake of killing; to do so is just a waste. Applying human emotions and Bambi sentimentality to this “law of the jungle” is meaningless.

  6. Richard says:

    Bea says,
    “Seems so sad to pick and choose which life matters and which is “meat”. As I’m sure you’ll agree no one wants to die. :( ”

    And yet every living thing dies and all things are eventually recycled by nature.

    • “Dying” by accident or nature running the course of a “full life” is quite different than deliberately planning and “making” lives just to kill. It seems that with this “god-like” ability – We ought to refrain from the lust of killing for pleasure and kill only if there are no other choices.

      Of course I have nothing against killing in self-defense or survival… But 57 billion “meat” animals butchered in our “modern age” has nothing to do with that.

  7. As editor, I would remind commenters to stay on topic related to the article, which, in this case, is celebrating a young Ohio farm couple that has worked hard to develop a niche in agriculture. It’s clear that personal philosophy differs among posters, and we certainly celebrate that — it’s what makes this a grand nation. But I don’t want personal idealogy, and off-topic back-and-forth comments, to detract from the success of these young farmers who are working hard to provide natural, wholesome, local food for your table.

    • I’m sorry that the challenge of dissenting comments disturbs you and the mission to celebrate the “success” of a new type of animal use for your industry.

      But of course you know by now these are not products made for my table or my ethics. I’ll graciously leave your forum to the noncontroversial topics that are welcome here and invite anyone who has issues with my POV to openly discuss their views of opposition:
      beaelliott.blogspot.com/

      Thank you for being as tolerant as you were.

    • wildfire says:

      It’s pretty annoying to find information about people doing dairy sheep in an adjacent state, and then when I check the comments for additional information, I find the comment thread has been hijacked by the vegan militia. I find this is the number one issue to hijack threads, though the merits and dangers of nuclear power and the 9/11 truthers come close. Thank you for trying to fend off the detour here.

      • Hi Wildfire – This is a public forum that allows open debate. The owner/manager of this site is free to delete any comment s/he wishes. I’m sorry you don’t approve of opinions that are contrary to yours… But such is the age of information. Gone are the days of book burning because someone might find another’s POV offensive. The vegan “militia” here has been civil, courteous and non-violent. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could treat ALL living beings so respectfully?

  8. Animal life is not “innocent” nor “guilty” for that matter…there is no such construct in nature.

    >>> But humans do have an understanding of such concepts. Of course the notion is silly when it comes to wanting to “punish” or eradicate species such as pit-bulls, wolves, sharks, etc. None the less, since everything in the universe is subject to our authority and judgment when it comes to nonhumans we indeed cast favorable or unfavorable light on to them.

    Again I will repeat: As the highest order life form, we have the natural right to use animals and plants as we see fit. Wether it is “necessary” or not is irrelevant, as long as the animal is used. That caveat is because In nature, few animals kill for the sake of killing; to do so is just a waste. Applying human emotions and Bambi sentimentality to this “law of the jungle” is meaningless.

    >>> I disagree that “necessity” is irrelevant. Necessity makes all the difference in the world as to what action is or isn’t justified. As an example used before – We do not condone human flesh eating, yet it has been done many times for survival — Necessity is the only thing we can base our moral or immoral actions on.

    I believe it is a moral obligation to our own species to progress beyond a “jungle” mentality. We have a responsibility not only to ourselves but each other to evolve beyond the whims that cause frivolous “desire-based” blood shed. A kinder world will benefit all humans as well. “Bambi” has nothing to do with this point of my position.

    • TY says:

      >>> I disagree that “necessity” is irrelevant. Necessity makes all the difference in the world as to what action is or isn’t justified.

      It make a difference, but not ALL the difference. I can think of a lot of things we do that is not necessary but we do anyway…

      >>Necessity is the only thing we can base our moral or immoral actions on.

      Nope. Disagree. Sounds kinda Machevellian to say such anyway.

      >>I believe it is a moral obligation to our own species to progress beyond a “jungle” mentality.

      What is the your source of this moral obligation? Maybe by your own sense of what is moral, but not necessarily by others. To each his own.

      >>We have a responsibility not only to ourselves but each other to evolve beyond the whims that cause frivolous “desire-based” blood shed.

      Your making a moral judgemnt that “desire based” (animal) blood shed is somehow wrong. I dont think it isnt, so I dont see any repsonsbility to do any “evolving”.

      >>A kinder world will benefit all humans as well.

      Non-use of animals would have more negative impact to the human species than the other way in my humble opinion. Not that it matters.

      >>“Bambi” has nothing to do with this point of my position.

      You cant seperate your emotions from the reality of life.

      • I have chosen to respect the requests of the editor of this forum – I’d be happy to address your errors on my turf here:
        beaelliott.blogspot.com/

  9. TY says:

    LOL! And I’d would be happy to address your errors too!

    But I know it would be a futile effort there just as you are futile here…

  10. I disagree. I believe you’re intelligent, aware, curious and well informed, but that you haven’t questioned your life-long conditioning.

    Whether we speak again or not – I have no doubts you’ll continue to ponder new information as it comes to you. Goodness knows I won’t ever stop either. ;)
    ~peace~

    • VM says:

      I believe as a farmer myself of sheep the above discussions were “way off base”. If you are not a farmer, you cannot begin to realize the joy in not only raising and caring for these animals with compassion, love and yes profit over the years, they bring me great joy. It is not in the selling when we have to make that decision, it is in watching them be born, helping to bring a new life into the world and watching them grow as we feed and take care of them with shots and good food and pasture. We provide all the comforts they require and then some. Farmers raise animals to be sold, sometimes just for pets, but otherwise for a profit. It has been done that way for centuries. I bet your parents were not vegans…nor your ancestors. Try not to bash too hard on the farmers…..they are what keep this country going. Next time you go to the supermarket, take a look at the nice selection of all “produce/meat/dairy” products and think what it would be like without all that for your comfort. I venture to say you don’t go hungry….you can blog and bash farmers all you want but the truth is, we all have a purpose on this earth….let’s try to remember to be civil to one another and not be so harsh. People take offense even if you don’t mean to.

      • Hello VM – I’m sorry if anything I’ve said seems offensive to you – But I haven’t been rude or disrespectful in any of my comments. If my opinions leave you “insulted” – There’s really nothing I can do about what you feel when I speak what I believe to be true.

        It doesn’t matter that I don’t “farm” – I don’t have to be a criminal to know that theft is wrong either. People pass judgments all the time about practices that they see that harm others. Indeed it is said that that is what the best people do is voice their concern when they see someone exploited. And that’s exactly what animal agriculture does… It requires a victim for profit. Profit that is made from products that are NOT necessary.

        I understand the value of abundant food – And that is exactly why I support all farmers who produce crops, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables, fruits, etc. Those are the ones who are truly “feeding the world”. I don’t have to farm to also know that filtering food, water and fuel into “livestock” is a very inefficient, damaging process. While you may “love” the experience of breeding your animals, letting them live for a short period of time and then seeing to it that their throats are slit “humanely” – Aside from you economic gain there is no justifiable reason for this practice. At least not in advanced nations. My “comfort” doesn’t depend on animal products… In fact, I find the whole of it very disturbing.

        Finally, you’re right – My parents weren’t vegan… But I’ve had 50+ years to make up my own mind on what values I wish to uphold – Killing innocent life when there are other options is not one of them. ~Good Day.

      • Dan from Dayton says:

        VM, I think some people forget what the alternatives are… If we don’t have smaller farmers treating animals in a humane way, then we’re left with the large commercial farms where the welfare/living conditions of the animals are horrible. I eat meat. I like meat. I will continue to eat meat even though some people choose not to. Most people in the world would probably fall in that category. You are raising animals in a good environment and there is no need for you to justify your methods to others unless they’re your consumers. Good luck in your efforts.

  11. VM says:

    I do not find you offensive or “disturbing” just your words – but we are all entitled to our “words”. I do not kill the innocent animals. In fact, my sheep are better attended to than most – my vet Brian Williams can attest to that as well. They, in fact, live longer than most as I take such good care of them and far longer than they would in the wild. Do you have a domesticated animal? If so, you are keeping them from their natural environment. I’m assuming you feed them vegan catfood or dogfood…..if so you are keeping them from their natural food source. We could go on and on and debate these issues, but frankly it will not get us anywhere. The good thing about our country is we do have freedom of speech, freedom to farm and raise as we see fit and feed Americans our “organic products”…I, for one, am proud of my profession and what I accomplish in life. No input is necessary.

    • On the point of the dogs in my family – Yes, they are on a plant based diet… By recommendation AND approval of their vet! Both are in excellent health and by all accounts will live longer than their counterparts fed a highly unnatural diet of cows and chickens. Canines are omnivores – In the wild they would probably live on rabbits, rats and mice… Do you feed your dogs rodents? Besides… I do wish you’d stick to the subject at hand and that is not the diet of our rescued “pets”.
      What was the issue was the unnecessary killing of life that did us no harm. That is “innocence”. The sheep you feed and house – Did you breed them? If so you have every responsibility to ensure that their lives are as pain free and as long as possible. This is not an “extra” courtesy you do but an obligation to the life that is there only by your command and instigation. Thank you for recognizing that we’re all entitled to our opinions and to the right to express our views. In my mind I owe no “respect” for an industry that uses/abuses/kills as a matter of common practice. It would be entirely different if this were an issue of human survival… But given our modern world – Clearly it’s not.

  12. okiestorm1 says:

    Bee,you are wrong about dogs,they are NOT omnivores they are meat eaters,a vegan diet in NOT good for your dog’s and your vet,if he or she did agree to this,needs his or her head examined.In the wild dogs and other animals from the canine family would live off anything they can kill and drag off to eat.yes i said kill, they are hunters, they eat meat.

  13. Hey folks, the comments (this is a story about a small farm trying to break into the sheep milk/cheese and local food markets) have veered way off topic. While Farm and Dairy appreciates and encourages conversation and discussion related to the story at hand, we’ll be forced to close the comments if the off-topic comments continue.

  14. Dan from Dayton says:

    Kristy, I applaud what you’re doing. I’ve often thought about raising goats here on my hobby-farm in Ohio, but recently have been giving sheep much more consideration. I only have ten acres, but we’ve started the orchard and just put the heater in the greenhouse for aquaponics. We’ll see if I can stay motivated. Knowing you guys have been successful with your efforts will go a long way in helping me. Good luck with everything!

  15. Farmerinheart says:

    Ms. Elliot you are totally wrong. I am into organics, I even try to eat vegetarian and raw food as much as possible for health reasons, I just don’t subscribe to your misguided thinking that these animals will be abused just because they will be milked. You should be applauding small farmers like this, because these animals will be loved and well taken care of.if there would be more farmers like this – world would be a better place.
    Overall a very good article, but I was surprised author only mentioned 2 kinds of cheeses as the only ones that can be made from sheeps milk, without mentioning FETA cheese, most popular cheese made from sheeps milk!

    • Hi Farmerinheart – Just a few questions: What do you think happens to the babies that are born male and “useless” to the industry? What do you think happens to the females if/when they can no longer have babies in order to continue lactating milk? Don’t you think family members are taken and herds are broken up regardless of the negative impacts to these individuals? If indeed they will be “loved” and “cared for” – Then none of these scenarios will end in bloodshed. I’m not totally wrong. I’m not wrong at all. I believe it is you who refuses to see the entire picture.

      • Dan from Dayton says:

        Bea Elliott, Even though you may not agree with how they run the whole operation, I am confused why you would continue to prod at the people who are causing the least damage from any of the styles of farms out there. The huge agri-corps are treating animals in such an inhumane way and you’re focusing on someone who treats animals well for any farm standard… If you’re going to focus on the treatment of animals, focus your energies on where the animals need the most help. I am the CFO and co-founder of a no-kill animal rescue but am still a meat eater. These people are doing wonderful things. You may disagree with the whole concept of any animal being killed, but try focusing on the lives that the animals lead. Trying to eliminate the suffering of the animals would go a lot further than harrassing the people trying to bring some harmony back to farming. May you find peace.

  16. Hi Dan from Dayton – I refuse to accept that “just a little” wrong can ever be right. We wouldn’t accept the same standards for any other social ill – Like a “little theft”, a “little bullying”, a “little rape”, or a “little murder”. When something is wrong to tolerate it, and even promote it in “degrees” of acceptability just perpetuates the harm. It normalizes the wrong. That’s why I’m against all unnecessary use/killing of others. Because their lives matter to them and they are voiceless in the hands of those who would profit from ignoring their right to their own lives.

    Furthermore, my husband comes from a 5th generation farming family… They raised/butchered the animals the “old way”. When I speak to these individuals who sliced throats and put their dear animals to death – There’s nothing but heartache and tears. They’ve lived long enough to regret what they felt they had to do at the time. We don’t have to do this any more. We can thrive on a plant based diet. Supporting even just a little wrong violates what virtue is all about: consistency.

    “When you start with a necessary evil, and then over time the necessity passes away, what’s left?”
    ― Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

  17. Dan from Dayton – I might also add that robbing a fine life seems even more mean spirited than liberating a miserable one who is caged in a warehouse. Why snuff a happy being from his time under the sun?

  18. TY says:

    >>I refuse to accept that “just a little” wrong..

    Funny, I refuse to accept that milking is even just a “little wrong” myself!

  19. Dan from Dayton says:

    Bea, I appreciate your stance on taking a hard stance on your views in which you feel strongly. It is very idealistic and admirable in a way. However, I have found that focusing on areas which need the most improvement will help your cause greater than taking such a solid stance on an entire spectrum. Decide on how you can best make a difference and push towards that goal. These are hard-working people trying to make the world a better place in their own way. Respect their work in improving the world, while you can try to improve the world in a way you see fit. If you think trying to stop these people from butchering any animal is the best way to improve our world when there are sooooo many atrocities, then I hope you find wisdom in this world or the next. Bless you.

    • Hi again Dan, Are you saying that we can only focus on one issue at a time? Perhaps you don’t see the full picture as I do that all violence and wrongs are interconnected. What we do to others, is done to us. There can be no peace unless there is justice – And peace begins on one’s plate. I assure you that vegans also are active in helping community schools, read to the elderly, pick up trash in public spaces, adopt dogs and cats, serve as Guardian Ad Litems, and do countless other good works as well. Indeed I believe that once someone is aware of the immense suffering in the world, they cannot help but apply themselves in all areas where they may be effective. We tend to be much more generous with ourselves when we stop compartmentalizing “others” whether they be human or non.

  20. TY says:

    I raised three feeder hogs this year. Had the girls pick one out each from the litter. They gave them each a name. Pinky,Hammy and Chops…. It was a good circle of life lesson for the girls. Girls handled it all very well. My parting words to the pigs were: Yes we have to part, but I will have you over for dinner.

  21. Jane says:

    I make my living selling my handmade (from scratch) tea, herb and milk soaps which include goat milk and cow milk. I’ve never made sheep milk soap before because I haven’t been able to find it. Would any of you know where I can find sheep milk in northern Ohio? I live in the Cleveland area and drive 30 miles to get my goat milk as that is the closest dairy I could find. I would be willing to drive a little farther for sheep milk, but preferably closer. Thanks.

    Jane Deerfield
    Tea, Herb & Milk Soaps
    http://www.TeaHerbMilkSoaps.com

  22. wildfire says:

    I like in West Virginia, have one acre clearing on a ridge, and am thinking about sheep rather than goats for homestead use because of the fencing issue. But wondering if it’s practical; it seems the dairy breeds give so much more milk that it makes no sense to get non-dairy breeds–but will they do well here? How much grain do they need? How does it work as far as allowing the lambs to nurse while/before milking, and how long does a sheep typically lactate? Do you breed them every year? These are the kinds of questions I have, if I can through the thicket of vegan picketers…

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