The Cheviot is a distinctive white-faced sheep, with a wool-free face and legs, pricked ears, black muzzle and black feet. It is a very alert, active sheep, with a stylish, lively carriage.
The Cheviot originated in the Cheviot Hills, on the border of England and Scotland. Recognised as a hardy sheep as early as 1372, Cheviots did well in those bleak, windswept conditions, with their strong constitution, easy lambing, well developed mothering instinct, and fast maturity. Introduced to Australia in 1938, the Cheviot has proved its ability to withstand the cold, wet Winters of Southern Australia, and is a vigorous forager through the hot, dry Summers, when feed is scarce.
A true multi-purpose sheep
- Ideal first cross
The Cheviot is ideal for crossing with fine wool breeds, to give a highly productive first-cross ewe. Cheviot wool is finer than other British Longwools, and crosses particularly well with Merino and Comeback wools, giving a finer-woolled first-cross ewe. The long history of the breed gives it genetic stability, which results in maximum hybrid vigour when crossed.
- Quality carcase
Cheviots produce fast-maturing, lean prime lambs. Their active nature means they put on muscle, not fat, and they have a high dressing percentage. The distinctive high shoulder, which gives them agility and suitability for hilly terrain, is light in bone and fat, and heavy in muscle. The rapid growth rate and fast maturity of Cheviot lambs means earlier sales, fewer carryovers and higher returns.
- Distinctive fleece
Cheviot wool has a distinctive helical crimp, which gives it that highly desirable resilience. Cheviot wool is often blended into other yarns to give resilience and durability to the finished article. The fleece is dense and long-stapled, of 56s-50s quality, and springy to the touch. These special properties also help reduce fleece rot and fly strike problems.
Cheviots are renowned for their high fertility. Ewes have a high twinning rate. Cheviot rams are very vigorous workers, and can be run with larger numbers of ewes. The lambs have a low birthweight, which makes for ease of lambing, yet they are soon on their feet to seek milk. The ewes have an exceptionally strong mothering instinct, which means a higher lamb survival rate. The result is more lambs marked, and a higher return for the grower.
Bred to look after themselves, Cheviots need less husbandry. Their ease of lambing and strong mothering instinct means fewer lambing problems. Hard black feet make them less prone to footrot. Their tendency for worm resistance means less drenching, less crutching and less fly strike. With wool-free faces, Cheviots never need wigging. All this means less labour, lower costs, and more profit.
The Cheviot's qualities have always been renowned. Its hardiness, its activity, its will to survive, its high fertility, mothering ability, low maintenance.
The present day Cheviot, whilst retaining these qualities, is also a highly productive sheep. Bigger, meatier, with a heavier and better quality fleece. The Cheviot is a versatile, multi-purpose sire, both for a finer, dense woolled first-cross ewe, and for fast maturing, lean prime lambs.