That sheep’s milk, among all the various varieties, is the one containing the most nourishment has already been stated in the previous chapter. It is strange, therefore, that we very rarely use this milk, especially since it does not have the unpleasant odor peculiar to goats’ milk, and also since about 5 to 6 liters of milk are given daily by the milch sheep. It is only in very few regions in Europe that the sale of this milk is regularly conducted, as in the Dutch province of Friesland. The finest milch sheep are to be found here, and the sturdy Frieslanders cannot understand why sheep’s milk is not used in the other portions of the kingdom so celebrated for its dairies. The author also considers this neglect as unjustifiable. Outside of Friesland, the greatest number of milch sheep are to be found in Iceland, and in the Pyrenees, the Appenines, and in Corsica. In the latter country the sale of sheep’s milk exceeds that of cows’ milk.
The fat content is here very striking; none of the varieties of milk which are generally used contains as much. Hence, the fact that sheep’s milk is principally used in making cheese.
Sheep’s milk also contains quite a considerable amount of iron. The ash contains 1.01 per cent. of oxide of iron, and also 30.17 per cent. of phosphorus, 7.63 per cent. of chlorine, and 31.12 per cent. of lime.
Asses’ milk is characterized by a decidedly sweet taste, and also by the fact that it is more easily digested than any other kind of milk. Its use is therefore indicated in the case of very weak persons, and feeble children can be best brought up with it when the maternal milk fails. The fact that it so closely resembles mother’s milk makes it very useful for suckling children.
It is quite a remarkable fact that among all animals the ass is the one whose milk most closely resembles human milk. Already in ancient times quite a number of healing properties were ascribed to asses’ milk, and Nero’s consort, Popp e, when on a journey, always took along 500 asses, in order to be able to bathe in their milk.
Asses milk is, in fact, worthy of much greater attention than it receives, and should be more frequently employed. Its rather sweet taste is not agreeable to every one, and its high price is against its general use. This could be remedied, how-ever, by raising the animals in great numbers. Another disadvantage is the fact that this milk does not keep well and must be taken soon after it is milked. It is owing to this peculiarity that, in regions where the animals are raised for their milk supply, they are taken to the door of the consumer and are there milked. In Barcelona one sees the asses going about with covers bearing on the one side the inscription “Approved by the” and on the other side “College of Physicians.”
Asses’ milk contains fewer bacteria than other kinds of milk. It is also a noteworthy fact that asses are not subject to tuberculosis. Because of its great similarity with woman’s milk and its digestibility it is much used, especially in France, for the bringing up of delicate children. I am acquainted with several young people in that country who were fed with asses’ milk, and who grew up in good health. In comparison with the widespread use of this milk in France, Catalonia, and southern Italy, its very limited use with us is striking. Its very high price is probably the chief reason, and this is possibly greatly owing to the fact that the ass is very capricious and obstinate and often objects to being milked. This animal, which is so greatly censured on account of its lack of intelligence, is, after all, not so stupid as it is said to be. The ass-mother is in fact not such a “donkey” as to be willing to give her milk, which is none too abundant, for the benefit of strange children, when she needs it so badly for her own young.
Goats’ milk resembles that of the cow in some respects, but it contains more albumin and particularly more fat than the latter. As in the case 0f sheep’s milk the fat content can be increased when substances containing fat and oil are included in the food. This variety of milk also deserves more attention than it receives, especially since the upkeep of a goat entails but little expense, as the animal is much less particular in regard to the quality of its food than is the cow, for instance. The smell of the milk, however, is detestable ; but this objection might be overcome by keeping the bucks (whose sexual tendencies are much more pronounced than in most domestic animals) out of the stables. The greatest care must be exercised in regard to absolute cleanliness, and in this way the milk may be kept free from any objectionable odor.
According to my personal experience, while staying on the island of Capri, where this milk is much used, I found it much more digestible than cows’ milk. The composition of goats’ milk is on an average as follows, according to König (vol. ii, P. 653)