Questions About Our Yogurt

  • Why is sheep milk yogurt good for me? What is the difference between sheep, goat and cows milk?

    Our sheep milk is perfect just as it is. For our yogurt, we use only natural, whole milk with its abundance of nutrients intact. There is no need to add powdered milk and stabilizers or drain extra whey to make the yogurt thicker.  Our recipe is simple: Happy, healthy sheep plus meticulous production methods and selection of active cultures creates the most naturally healthful, lusciously thick, and delicious whole milk yogurt for you.

    Humans have been milking sheep and enjoying the unique benefits of their milk for thousands of years! The countries of the Mediterranean remain the world’s biggest producers—the extraordinarily long lives of Bulgarian shepherds is often attributed in part to the health-giving benefits of sheep milk. Sheep's milk is extremely high in nutrients compared to other kinds of commercially available milk. In many cases, it is more readily digestible to people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Gram for gram, the superiority of sheep milk lies in the comparison with cow and goat milk - especially in the differences between levels of critical nutritional substances like protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, Vitamins B6, B12 and D, the medium-chain amino acids, linoleic acids and all 10 of the essential amino acids.

    Sheep milk contains about one-third more energy than cow or goat milk. It has double the protein and much more of the right kinds of fats, vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, while being lower in sodium. It has more than twice as much Vitamin C, and double or triple the other essential vitamins. Importantly, it also has more folic acid (folate).

    Sheep’s milk contains about twice the fat of cow’s milk, but this also means twice the ‘healthy’ fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, including Omega 3 & 6). The same goes for Goat’s milk. The body needs healthy fats for many bodily functions, like absorbing vitamins. Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids belong to this group.

    Sheep milk is also rich in medium-chain fatty acids or triglycerides (MCTs) - about 25% of the fat content. MCTs can benefit weight control by promoting ‘fullness’, reducing fat deposits, increasing energy expenditure, and being more easily metabolized (turned into energy in the body).

    The fat globules in sheep milk are smaller than those in either cow or goat milk so the milk is more homogeneous. The smaller fat globules are often more easily digested and less likely to cause high cholesterol.

    In a nutshell:

    Ounce for Ounce Whole Sheep Milk is Superior! (Compared to cow and goat milk)

    Sheep milk has 60% more protein
    Sheep milk protein is complete because it has all 10 essential amino acids the body needs.
    Sheep milk does not contain A1 protein

    Sheep milk has more of the good fats!
    Mono- and poly-unsaturated, including Omega 3 & 6

    Sheep milk is higher in natural vitamins and minerals.
    A, B, B1, B6, B12, C, E, and calcium (also more magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc, which may help combat allergies and eczema)

    Sheep milk is easier to digest.
    Higher in medium- & short-chain fatty acids
    The fat globules are smaller and easier to digest

  • Does sheep milk taste like goat milk?

    We get this question all the time because the two animals are very similar in size.  However, the two kinds of milk taste nothing alike.  Sheep milk is noted for its incredibly clean flavor - with no funny aftertaste.  In fact, most people even prefer it to cow milk.

  • Is sheep milk yogurt more digestible?

    Yes, data shows that sheep milk yogurt is more digestible when compared to cows' milk. While sheep milk does contain lactose, people consistently report that they are able to eat sheep milk without discomfort. In Bellwether Farms' research, we found that over 50% of our customers, when surveyed, reported that they chose our yogurt specifically because of digestibility and other health concerns, such as allergies. In many cases, these customers were following the direction of a doctor.

    There are many scientific reasons for sheep milk's digestibility. Like goat’s milk, it is naturally homogenized and has smaller fat globules and more medium fatty chain acids. Sheep’s milk is also high in A2 protein, Vitamin B12, and folate. The high level of A2 protein specifically leads to greater digestibility. An intolerance to A1 protein in certain cow milk often presents as lactose intolerance.

    Of course, the thing that really stands out about Bellwether Farms yogurt is how great it tastes.

  • Can cow milk yogurt be made to be more digestible? What’s the deal with A2 protein?

    The answer is 'Yes.' Not all breeds of cows produce the same kind of milk. Bellwether Farms uses milk from Jersey cows that we source from neighboring farms here in Sonoma County, California. The California Dairy Research Foundation has documented that Jersey cow milk contains A2 beta-casein protein, not the A1 protein that many find difficult to digest. There are additional studies with small groups of human subjects who self-report intolerance. In these studies, people reported no issues with milk that contained only A2 protein.

    In addition to being more digestible, Jersey cow milk also has a richer, more full taste and texture.

  • Is your yogurt gluten free?

    Yes all varieties of our yogurt are naturally gluten free.

  • Why is there liquid sometime on the top of my yogurt?

    The liquid that is sometime found on the top of your yogurt is whey. It is normal for a bit of whey to separate from the yogurt once it has been packaged. Whey contains many important vitamins and nutrients and can be mixed back into the yogurt.

  • Why is there sugar in your yogurt and where does it come from?

    We do not add any sugar to our plain yogurt. The sugar in the plain yogurt is lactose (the natural sugar found in milk). The sugar found in our fruit flavors is about 3/4 naturally occurring due to the lactose and the fruit. The sugar in our vanilla is about 50% from the lactose and the rest from cane sugar.

Questions About Our Cheese

  • Is your cheese pasteurized?

    At this time the only raw milk products we make are our two aged sheep milk cheeses — San Andreas and Pepato. These are aged over 90 days, which is a month longer that the FDA requirements for raw milk cheeses.

  • Is your rennet vegetarian?

    Our cheeses are made with traditional rennet which is not vegetarian. We made a decision to use natural rennet because we feel it produces better flavors for our cheeses.

  • Can I freeze your cheese?

    No our cheese does not freeze well. If you cannot eat it all - take it to work, school or give it to your neighbor.

  • How should I store cheese?

    Cheese should be kept at temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees F. New wrapping should be used each time a cheese is rewrapped. Cheese should be stored in an airtight container to avoid picking up aromas from other foods. Ideally, wrap the cheese with waxed paper and then place in an airtight plastic container. In a pinch, any airtight plastic bag or container will do. Chilled cheeses should be allowed time to warm before serving. Half an hour to an hour should be sufficient. Mold on a cheese does not mean that it is spoiled. Just make a shallow cut from each moldy surface of the cheese so that no mold is visible.

Questions About Our Sheep and Farm

  • What breed of sheep do you have?

    Our flock is comprised of East Friesian and Lacaune. The East Friesian sheep are a breed of dairy sheep originating from northern Germany. The Lacaune is a breed of sheep originating from southern France. These are two of the best sheep breeds in terms of milk yield per ewe. Both breeds typically have twins or triplets so lambing time (typically in the Winter) can be a very busy time for us!

  • How much milk do you get from a ewe?

    On average we get about 1/2 gallon per day (milking twice a day) from each ewe. This amount is less than a goat and much less than a cow — some breeds can average over 12 gallons a day! This is the main reason sheep milk products are among the most expensive.

  • Do you shear your sheep and what do you do with the wool?

    Yes, we typically shear our sheep twice a year - usually a month before they lamb. We shear around our lambing schedule and therefore the length of the wool is never quite long enough for premium wool sales. We sell the wool to a wool cooperative that markets it for carpeting and other industrial purposes

  • What do your sheep eat? Is the feed organic and non-GMO?

    Our ewes have year-round access to pasture and open space. They love to graze and rest in the shade of our Eucalyptus trees. However, since California has more than half the year without rain the majority of our ewes diet is alfalfa with a small amount of corn. Currently, we cannot guarantee that our ewes feed is always GMO-free. We are actively working on sourcing as much organic and non-GMO as is economically possible.

  • Can we visit your farm or creamery?

    We are a working farm and creamery and do not offer tours at this time. To learn more about our farm be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter.