Characteristics and utilization of sheep and goat milk in the Middle East
Hilali, Muhi El-Dine
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The main dairy products from sheep and goats in the Middle East are yogurt and cheese, mostly produced by households and small scale local processors using traditional methods. Yogurt is the most common product. The main cheese, produced from sheep milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk, is fresh cheese (Bayda) with a high fat content. There are also low-fat cheeses such as Mushallaleh and Halloumi to meet the demand of urban, more health-conscious consumers. Studies on composition and characteristics of both sheep and goat milk and dairy products are available, but the most part of them are not readily available to the international scientific community. Differences in milk composition between species and breeds and variations during lactation, both affect the yield and characteristics of dairy products. The processing methods and the mixture of goat and sheep milk could be adjusted accordingly to maintain quality. The existing diversity in cheese and local knowledge offers a valuable base for meeting the increasing demand for animal products. However, quality and safety aspects related to small scale processing have not been thoroughly studied and require more attention in order to sustain or improve the market access of small processors.