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Brecknock Hill Cheviot Sheep

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Other common names: Brecon Cheviot; Sennybridge Cheviot; Miniature Cheviot Sheep; Cheviot Mynydd Brycheiniog

The basics:
Brecknock Hill Cheviot Sheep originated in the Brecon Beacon Hills (Brecknock & Sennybridge Hills) in Wales UK in Wales some 400 years ago. They descended from the original border Cheviot Sheep, which were then crossed with Welsh Mountain and Leicester Sheep. Brecknock Hill Cheviot Sheep were formally recognized in the mid 1850's.

Appearance / health:
Purebred Brecknock Hill sheep have white faces and legs, and come in all colors except spotted. Both rams and ewes are normally polled (hornless) but occasionally the rams are horned. They are known for having a gentle temperament.

Brecknock Hill Cheviots were one of the first breeds to be blood tested and culled under the National Scrapie Plan (NSP). One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.

Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.

Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.

For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.

Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.

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