Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted Sep 06, 2012
Our neighbours raised purebred cheviots and we would occasionally buy rams and ewes from them to supplement our own flock. They are a hardy hill breed (developed on the Scottish borders) but are quite a big and powerfully built breed (compared to other upland sheep that is).
They have broad backs and breeders often introduce them to improve the conformation of their lambs. They have a bit of a reputation for being wild (they were bred for open moorland) and the rams can be really nasty. Part of the problem may have been that the ones we bough had been trained as show animals so they had no fear of humans. For the most time they were fine, but could turn on you in an instant.
The rams were fine when kept away from the ewes in all male groups but as soon as they were introduced back to the flock their aggressive natures won out. They were originally bred as a dual use sheep an their fleece is dense. As a result they do need shearing before summer.
Being hardy then can be left outside all year round, even in the roughest weathers. However, if being raised under Lowland Management, where lambing is earlier and there is an increased chance of twinning they are typically overwintered indoors, whilst being allowed out in the day to graze. Their diet being supplemented with hay or silage and commercial sheep feed and molasses licks. As a hill breed, the ewes do make excellent mothers and are very protective of their young.
Everyone's experience with a breed varies, but I have to say this was one of the few breeds that did not impress me. Crossbred lambs tended to put on too much fat, the ewes were too skittish and the rams were aggressive. Though I have known many Scottish breeders who swear by them.
If you are thinking of a sheep breed for a pet or even a smallholding then I would say that the Cheviot would not be the one for you. That said, they make really great show animals as the pure breed has great confirmation and the dense wool can be neatly clipped and trimmed.