Cheviot sheep are a delightful, alert looking breed of sheep. Their fleece is long and springy making it easy to wash and spin. The sheep, while coming from the Cheviot Hills of England, are not considered rare or endangered. But in Australia there are not many so have been classified rare here.
There is not much information available on the history of Cheviot provenance. But they come from the Cheviot Hills of the UK.
Cheviot sheep are a hornless, medium sized breed. While a Cheviot's head is free from all wool, it's body is covered by medium to long, crimpy fleece which is typically white, but sometimes spotted. It's ears are erect, alert and sometimes spotted.
Cheviots have a long neck, fleshy back and hind quarter with short legs and black feet.
Cheviot are a dual purpose sheep with strong wool and good meat. The breed has strong lambing capability often having twins. They require less husbandry as a breed, being more self sufficient than some other breeds.
In general, Cheviot are described as "square set, compact, white faced sheep displaying a very alert carriage" by its association.
Fleece and Fibre
Cheviot has a longer staple. Though it is somewhat pointy, is similar in look and feel to the down breeds (springy, block, and bouncey). Once washed it has a springy staple that measures 10-12 cm and a micron count in high twenties to low thirties. Deborah Robson mentions in her book, The Fleece and Fibre Source Book that the Australian Cheviots may have longer, finer fleece.
Cheviot is variable though can be a strong fibre and therefore good for hard wearing items like hats, socks, mittens. Finer fleece may be used for next to skin or "near" skin garments.
The fibre is of a length that allows one to process the staples in nearly any manner. For the hand spinner, the fibres can be combed, hand or drum carded, or each staple can even be simply hand teased and introduced to the wheel orifice. The fiber blends nicely with other fibers to produce different yarns. The fiber takes dye strongly, but does not have the sheen of the long wools.
Cheviot makes a nice rolag and can be beautifully spun using a long draw technique, producing a fluffier yarn. A worsted preparation also makes a strong yarn well suited to durable hiking socks. Blending this long staple with other fibers could produce a durable, yet softer, sock or mitten.
Cheviots produce lean prime lambs. They are active sheep which means they produce more muscle. The rapid growth rate the lambs combined with the beautiful wool from Cheviot fleece means it is a desirable, dual purpose breed. Cheviot pelts would also be a lovely addition to a floor.
Where to Find Fibre or Products to Support this Breed
Heritage Sheep Australia - Cheviot are one of the breeds supported by this group.
Gallery - A series of photos specific to this breed