Ohio Sheep Milk and Cheese Initiative

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $16,885.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Abbe Turner
Lucky Penny Farm

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Animals: goats, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, marketing management, feasibility study, market study, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, social capital, social networks

    Proposal summary:

    It is the goal of the Ohio Sheep Milk and Cheese Initiative to determine the feasibility of the production of sheep milk in Ohio and to explore the opportunity of value added processing of this milk into local artisan sheep cheeses. The sheep dairy industry is a market that could unfold into an exciting economic opportunity for small farm producers. Demand for specialty cheeses exists, but raw materials, fluid sheep milk, processing capabilities and quality sheep dairy genetics in Ohio are currently limiting factors. Research performed with this SARE grant hopes to inform these opportunities for we believe that if these elements are present and available sheep dairying could become a sustainable venture for small farms in Ohio. Reports from other countries state that sales of sheep milk cheese have more than doubled in the domestic market since 2000 noting that sheep cheese owed its success and rapid sales increase to direct marketing initiatives by innovative farmers and small dairies. This is our intent through this SARE grant: to determine interest and explore opportunity in Ohio. Currently it is estimated there are approximately 150 sheep dairy farms in the U.S., but even considering this amount 66 million pounds of sheep’s milk cheese was imported into the U.S. with a value of $118 million. These imported products included Feta, Manchego, Romano and Roquefort cheeses. Sheep milk also offers distinct advantages for farmers and cheesemakers due to the fact that freezing and storage of sheep milk does not hurt its cheese production capabilities. This option provides cash flow management and production flexibility within the parameters of shipping and storage of fluid and frozen milk.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.