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Good year for North Country Cheviots

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Good year for North Country Cheviots

THE North Country Cheviot Sheep Society is celebrating a record-breaking sales season as the popularity of the breed continues to grow.

Society sales for the hardy hill breed, which take place around the country, including Lockerbie and Longtown, saw long-standing records smashed and a tremendous commercial demand for rams along with an overall uplift in price across the board.

The North Country Cheviot is the largest of the UK hill breeds and comes in two types – the Hill type and the Park type. Both types were developed for their thriftiness and health, meaning they thrive in the poorest upland conditions.

Until this year, the record price paid for a Park tup was £8000 which had stood since 1979.

However, on September 15 at the Lockerbie Park sale, the record was almost doubled when “Allanshaws Bullseye”, bred by Roderick Runciman from Lauderdale, was sold for £15,000.

A new record for the Hill type was also set this year.

On October 4 in Lairg, “Stouphill A 19392” – a two shear ram sired by Badanaloch Tip Top Tup – sold for £24,000, smashing the previous record of £18,000 which had stood since 2019.

North Country Cheviot Sheep Society president Melfyn Williams said the new records were great to witness and were indicative of the quality of the modern North Country Cheviot.

He said: “I’m confident everyone connected with the breed will be delighted to see new records set for both the Park and Hill type at this year’s sales. It goes to show the growing value that is attached for the Northie both as a pure-breed animal and for the commercial sheep farmer.

“These highlights, however, are not the only headlines to come from this year’s sales. The Northie achieved new centre records set at the NSA Builth Ram sale, Kelso Ram sale, Lockerbie Hill sale, Bryncir, and at the Clitheroe sale.

“We’ve had possibly the best demand for the rams for commercial use, together with the highest proportion of rams selling in the £2000 and above category. It is tremendous to see the Northie remains an affordable option for the pure and commercial breeder with around 25 per cent of rams selling in the up to £1000 bracket.

“These are fantastic results. We know that the popularity of the breed is on the rise and the higher prices good rams are now attracting shows the Northie is coming into its own as one of the UK’s most versatile sheep.”

Mr Williams added the surge of popularity was down to the Northie’s traits, in particular the milky and mothering instincts of the ewe and the longevity of both rams and ewes.

He said: “North Country Cheviot ewes are renowned for being excellent mothers and this is reflected in the quality and health of their offspring, which rarely have problems.

“They also have a long working life. Draft ewes are sold for good prices at around five years of age and go on to produce another two or three crops of lambs.

“Combine this with the fact that in both store and prime markets, North Country Cheviot crosses often provide an uplift in price – often as much as £10 extra per head – and it’s easy to see why quality Northie rams are attracting such strong demand at the sales.”

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