Thursday, March 9, 2017

Breed Profile #3: Cheviot Sheep

I've almost run out of breeds to profile from my visit to True Colors Farm in Washington, ME...a lot of the sheep there are mixed breeds, which would be a little challenging to profile.  :P  

(Plus I'm visiting another farm on Saturday, so I need to finish up this series!)

However, there are just a couple more sheep I can talk about - Brenda has a few Barbados Sheep, which I'll do a post about tomorrow, and she has one purebred Cheviot ewe.


Sorry for the lesser-quality photos in this post...I was hesitant to get too close to the fence because the guard llama was giving me the evil eye.


Anyway...back to the sheep.  

The Cheviot is a medium-sized sheep known for its extreme hardiness.  It has been in existence in the Cheviot Hills (the border of England and Scotland) for many hundreds of years, and was expected to survive in that harsh climate with little to no shelter.  This has produced a hardy, resourceful sheep with excellent mothering skills, parasite resistance, and a good constitution.


As I research the breed, I'm getting conflicting information on whether the wool is of a desirable quality, but it sounds like the Cheviot is primarily used in outcrosses to meat breeds to produce high-quality market lambs.  The offspring matures to a good size quickly.  

This particular ewe has a Katahdin cross lamb, who's quite adorable:


The Cheviot can also be crossed with a wool breed for higher-quality wool.  Their wool weighs, on average, 8-10 pounds.  (Which I have no frame of reference yet to know if that's a good thing, but, hey - it'd make a nice random fact to casually toss into your next conversation!)

So...it sounds like the Cheviot might be an interesting breed to consider for Butterscotch Farm if I were interested in mutton, but not so much if I was hoping for particularly high-quality wool.  A Cheviot might be nice for crossing with other sheep, though, to increase the hardiness and mothering ability of another breed.

Can you spot the Cheviot hiding among the Barbados?  Lol.  :P
Here's the list of websites I used to research this breed, in case you want to do further reading:

Brittanica.  Short and to the point.
OSU.  Nice and detailed.
American Cheviot Sheep Society.  Lol, maybe a bit biased, but helpful.  :P
OSU again, but a different page.  Hmm...
Cheviot Sheep Society.  Surprisingly succinct!

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