2015 - Volume #39, Issue #6, Page #08[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Miniature Cheviots Are Spirited, Hardy
Over time most Cheviots have been bred to be larger for commercial purposes. But a few sheep producers kept the original size which are now called miniature Cheviots.
“They have a certain look that appeals to me - upright ears, bright eyes and spirit,” says Dean Hyden in Chewelah, Wash., who got his first Cheviots 40 years ago as a 4-H’er.
“Only the toughest sheep survived the harsh Scottish climate, and the breed, over time, became very hardy,” Hyden says. The flock he and his wife, Kari, raise do best with a diet of pasture grass, legumes and forbs in the summer months and a good quality hay in the winter supplemented with free choice salt/minerals and fresh water. That makes the Cheviot a low-cost and easily kept breed.
The Cheviot is a dual-purpose breed used equally for their meat and wool. Producing about 5 to 6 lbs. of a medium grade wool, it’s ideal for socks and rugged outdoor garments. A unique aspect of its wool is its ability to maintain elasticity when made into a garment. This is due to the wool fiber feature known as crimp prevalent in Cheviot fleece.
Miniature Cheviot rams have a distinctive and traditional look with a short, stocky frame, thick shoulders, and full chests. Historically, they adorn themselves with a white fleece that comes to a full crest toward the back of their necks. The ewes are good mothers of twins, lamb with ease and can reproduce into their teens.
The miniature Cheviots are 17 to 23 in. tall at the withers. Market lambs weigh 80 to 100 lbs. and ewes are up to 85 lbs. Rams weigh up to 100 lbs. Hyden really appreciates their smaller size now that he is older. The lighter weight makes them easier to handle for worming and shearing.
“A majority of my clients are ladies in their 50’s who want something to raise on their small farm. They use the wool for spinning, weaving and felting made from their own sheep, and it’s a breed they can handle with less maintenance.” Hyden says. Though they are a little more spirited than other sheep breeds, Cheviots also work well for show animals for youth as their wool washes up very white and their perky appearance makes them stand out above other sheep in the show ring.
Cheviot sheep are very adaptive to all climates, and Hyden has sold sheep as far south as Texas and north into Canada.
More information and a breeders list can be found at the Miniature Cheviot Sheep Breeders Cooperative website, www.minicheviot.com.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dean and Kari Hyden, Shepherd’s Bounty, 2320 Burnt Valley Rd., Chewelah, Wash., 99109 (ph 509 935-7193; www.shepherdsbounty.com, firstname.lastname@example.org).
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