This month will see one of the most important annual sales for North Country Cheviots.
On September 18, around 4,000 ewes, gimmers and ewe lambs will be going under the hammer at Harrison and Hetherington’s Lockerbie Mart, along with over 400 rams, 269 hill rams and 173 park rams.
The sale is one of the biggest both for the breed and for the mart, meaning it is likely to set a benchmark for current market value. As a breed, the North Country Cheviot’s popularity is growing from strength to strength.
Essentially a hill sheep, it requires only low inputs, while at the same time producing something extremely saleable.This makes it one of the most versatile breeds in the country, and means it does well under virtually any conditions found in the UK.
One of the benefits for breeders is that there has always been a keen demand for all classes of stock – ewes, rams and both ewe and wether lambs.
Alison Brodie, secretary of the North Country Cheviot Society, said:: “We have already held lamb sales in the North which have demonstrated there is a demand for the breed, and judging by the enquires and interest shown already we are hoping for a promising sale. Farmers have had a very difficult 18 months, and as our first major ram sale of the year and our main sale in the south of Scotland it will give a good indication of the market.
“With quality stock forward it is a sale we all look forward to and I know that we will be very well supported by Harrison and Hetherington and their team at Lockerbie.”
The versatility of the breed also extends to its crosses, with the much-in-demand Cheviot Mule being a mix of the Cheviot Ewe with the Bluefaced Leicester.
The Cheviot Mule’s carcase is considered by many to be of superior conformation and finish to other mule crosses.
Crossing North Country Cheviot ewes directly with terminal sires such as Suffolk, Texel, Beltex and Charollais also works well, not only for the quality of the prime lambs, but for the top-class first cross breeding females.
The North Country Cheviot ram, too, has proved his worth in crossing programmes, especially when other hill breeds are involved, as the cross lambs produced have the kind of carcase required to meet today’s market specification, being consistently of good conformation and able to finish at all weights.
Lamb finishers, likewise, are finding that premium prices are being paid for North Country Cheviot lambs during the winter and spring, with buyers travelling from all over the country to the annual sales of lambs bred on the hills of Scotland.
Michael Stewart, an auctioneer at Harrison and Hetherington, said: “The demand for the North Country Cheviot is increasing, especially into the North of England and Wales. In today’s market, quality and consistency are important and this is a breed sought after for breeding stock or as lambs for finishing. As one of our foremost sales of the year at Lockerbie Mart, it attracts buyers and breeders from the length and breadth of the country.”
For details on the sale see www.harrisonandhetherington.co.uk and for further information on the North Country Cheviot Breed Society, contact Allison Brodie on 01461 600673.