Sheep milk is produced under the same high hygienic standards as required for cow and goat milk. Grade A sheep milk would be required to meet the standards of < 100,000/ml standard plate count (SPC) and <750,000/ml somatic cell count (SCC). Normally, sheep milk would be cooled to <7°C within two hours of milking and would be transported to the processing plant every two days. Some states may allow a variance of an additional day or two at the farm before requiring transportation of the milk to the processing plant.
With seasonal production, low milk production per ewe, and a large number of producers with small herds, raw milk typically is frozen at the farm until sufficient quantities are accrued for further processing. Milk should be rapidly frozen and stored at — 27°C or lower for maximum protein stability. Milk frozen at — 15°C exhibited protein destabilization in the milk after six months of frozen storage. Milk frozen at — 27°C and stored for 12 months had quality equivalent to fresh, unfrozen milk.
Sheep milk is generally processed by one of three manufacturing processes: traditional processes at farmstead or artisinal facilities, a combination of traditional and modern processes in small plants under controlled technical conditions, or large, modern plants with advanced technologies. Regardless of the size of processing facility, good quality milk must be used to produce safe, quality products for the consumer. Raw sheep milk may be successfully pasteurized with either high-temper
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