Snow white sheep’s milk yogurt has twice the calcium and almost 50% more protein than cow’s milk yogurt. Photo by Malgorzata Korpas | IST.
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.
Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Sheep’s Milk Yogurt
More Protein & Calcium + Probiotic Cultures
CAPSULE REPORT: People who love fine cow’s milk yogurt may become instant fans of sheep’s milk yogurt—smoother, richer and creamier. Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, producers of acclaimed sheep’s milk cheeses, makes an excellent sheep's milk yogurt that is more nutritious and healthy than cow’s milk yogurt. The 100% natural line (no artificial thickeners, stabilizers, colors, etc.) also contains probiotic cultures. You also can cook with sheep’s milk yogurt: It does not break down at high temperatures like cow’s milk yogurt.
Sheep were the first animals to be domesticated as mankind transitioned from nomadic hunters to sedentary farmers. Eventually, man discovered how to transform milk into yogurt and cheese. While sheep and goats provided milk and cheese* to ancient civilizations and are still the staple dairy animals in many areas of the world, cows have replaced sheep in countries that have grazing land for them, because of their higher yield: A sheep can give just one quart of milk per day (a high-producing breed, 1.5 quarts); a goat, 3 quarts; a cow, 14 quarts. The lower yield is also why goat’s and sheep’s milk products are usually more expensive than their cow’s milk counterparts.
*Some well-known sheep’s milk cheeses include Feta, Manchego, Ossau-Iraty, Pecorino Romano and Roquefort.
Old Chatham Sheepherding Company has been delighting specialty food consumers for 15 years with its farmstead sheep cheeses—farmstead meaning that the products are made from the milk of the farm’s own animals. Starting with 150 ewes in 1993, the company now has more than 1,000 East Friesian purebred and crossbred sheep, and is the largest sheep dairy farm in the U.S. The fields and pastures are organically managed; while the company has not pursued organic certification, no hormones, routine antibiotics, herbicides or pesticides are used.
East Friesians, by the way, are the world’s highest-producing dairy sheep breed, known as the “Holsteins” of sheep. They have small, elegant heads with white faces and pink noses; their head and legs are free of wool. The breed originated in the Friesland/East Friesland area of north Holland and Germany, the same origin of the Friesian cattle breed that includes the Holstein, famed for producing the highest milk yield of any breed of livestock. Some gifted livestock breeders in that part of Europe certainly had the magic touch!
Photo of East Friesian sheep courtesy of
If you’re eating yogurt as a health food, sheep’s milk yogurt can actually be better for you. Sheep’s milk (and therefore, its yogurt):
- Has 48% more protein than cow’s milk.
- Has twice the calcium than cow’s milk.
- Is higher in vitamins A, B (B1, niacin; B2, riboflavin; B5, folic acid; and B12), C, D and E, has higher levels of biotin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, and less sodium.
- Probiotic cultures include Bifidus, L. acidophilus L. bulgaricus, and S. thermophilus (see our Probiotic Glossary for more information).
- While the fat content is higher, it has more beneficial fat than other milks. Sheep's milk is not as high in saturated fatty acids; 45% of the fatty acids are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. The short chain fatty acid (stearic acid) has also been found to have little effect on human cholesterol levels or formation of plaque in the arteries.
- In addition, its smaller fat globules make it more digestible, so people with a lactose intolerance to cow’s milk products may be able to enjoy it (goat’s milk is also superior to cow’s milk in term of digestibility). In addition, the lactose is converted into lactic acid in yogurt production.
- Sheep produce thicker milk—it contains almost twice as much solids as cow’s milk—so there is no need to add stabilizers to the yogurt.
- Sheep are not given growth hormones; all the milk is rBGH-free.
Read more about the properties of sheep’s milk from the British Sheep Dairying Association.
Flavors Of Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Yogurt
Sheep’s milk is naturally sweet; the flavor varies subtly by seasons, based on what the animals eat in the field. The yogurt is 100% pasteurized sheep’s milk. Keeping it simple, Old Chatham’s Black Sheep Yogurt Collection offers snowy-white sheep’s milk yogurt in just three flavors: Ginger, Maple and Plain. The flavor profile on Ginger and Maple is very light—just a touch, providing a lot of finesse. These are elegant yogurts. Plus, Old Chatham uses no added sugar in its flavored yogurts.
Our favorite flavor is zingy ginger, but we like them all.
- Ginger Sheep’s Milk Yogurt. Bits of crystallized ginger provide crunch as well as flavor—be sure to stir the ginger up from the bottom. The ginger creaminess makes a wonderful topping for fresh fruit salad, citrus salad, granola or other cereal. As with all the yogurts, it is wonderful with fresh figs. (150 calories/6 ounces)
- Maple Sheep’s Milk Yogurt. Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s maple yogurt is flavored with pure maple syrup. Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than sugar, so this flavor may be a way for people who watch their sugar intake to enjoy yogurt. The maple flavor is subtle—we enhanced it with Equinox Organic Maple Flakes, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. Try it over pancakes and waffles, or with a bowl of granola. (160 calories/6 ounces)
- Plain Sheep’s Milk Yogurt. Enjoy the plain yogurt classic-style, with a drizzle of honey and some chunky-chopped walnuts (a heart-healthy food). Fresh figs or fig jam are a delicious complement, as is melon and other fresh fruit. Top cereal with plain yogurt and dried fruit. Cook with it: Sheep’s milk yogurt does not break down at high temperatures like cow’s milk yogurt. (140 calories/6 ounces)
More Sheep Yogurts
Old Chatham has good national distribution, so check your specialty food stores. If you want to investigate more sheep’s milk yogurt, try:
Don’t be sheepish: Try these delightful sheep’s milk yogurts today.
Black Sheep Yogurt Collection
Sheep’s Milk Yogurt in Ginger,
Maple & Plain
- Ginger Sheep Yogurt
Case of Twelve 6-Ounce
- Maple Sheep Yogurt
Case of Twelve 6-Ounce
- Plain Sheep Yogurt
Case of Twelve 6-Ounce
Containers (Also Available
In 16-Ounce Containers)
- Sheep Yogurt Assortment
Four Of Each Flavor
- Retail 6-Ounce Container
$2.69 (price will vary)
Purchase online* at BlackSheepCheese.com.
Available at fine retailers nationwide.
*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. These items are offered by a third party and THE NIBBLE has no relationship with them. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.
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