Sheep Farmers Find New Market for Their Milk
August 8, 2014

The Joe Adiego family's creamery outside Petaluma, Calif., appears to be the first in the nation to bottle sheep milk and send it off to grocery stores. Its owners hope to build a following among the multitudes looking for alternatives to what comes out of a cow's udder.

The Haverton Hill Creamery sits on an old cow dairy. Nearly four years ago, the family began providing sheep milk to Bellweather Farms, a Petaluma maker of cheese and yogurt. The Adiegos lease three ranches totaling about 570 acres; they have built up their herd to more than 1,000 ewes.

In the last month, a few North Bay grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Community Market, have stocked their full-fat, pasteurized sheep milk. This week, it went into the refrigerated section of the three stores of Cotati-based Oliver's Market, selling for $10.99 a quart.

In the U.S., sheep milk production typically drops off dramatically in the fall, about 200 days after lambing season. But Adiego has crossbred his East Friesian/Lacombe dairy sheep with Dorsets, a meat sheep that give birth to lambs year round. The crossbreeding allowed the creamery's milk production to stay more consistent.

Reprinted in part from The Press Democrat, Calif.