Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Which tup?  (Read 478 times)


  • Joined Jun 2016
Which tup?
« on: September 16, 2019, 09:23:18 am »
Morning all! I'm in a quandary. So we are fairly new to sheepkeeping, going into our 3rd season. We started with 3 shetlands, this has grown to 23 Shetlands, 1 ryeland, (a short-lived expermiment!) 14 cheviots and 2 zwartbles. We more than doubled our land this year and are now looking for something more marketable than the field fillers they used to be as well as growing our flock. The initial plan for this year was to use a Cheviot tup on everything bar my ryeland and a couple of Shetlands (I have a ryeland tup for them), so that the pure Cheviots and Cheviot crosses would do better at market, with the ewes being a good maternal replacement. However, we have been gifted two cracking zwartble rams over the weekend, and I'm now wondering what's best to do. Should I use a Cheviot on my Cheviots and zwartbles over Shetlands? Any advice greatly received!


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Which tup?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2019, 12:20:05 pm »
I don't know Cheviots I'm afraid, but as you already have the ram I would probably use him. I suppose it depends on what you would like to produce, if you want to go down the pure bred route, or just produce for the commercial market?

I'd be tempted to carry on breeding bure Cheviots (I assume they are registered) in the hope that you will get good prices for the ewe lambs and if you can sell the occasional breeeding ram. Anything that wasn't special enough to be registered I would cross with a Lleyn or Texel to produce a comercial type lamb.


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Which tup?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2019, 01:07:35 pm »
I'm not a fan of Zwartbles, personally.  My reasons include :

  • feet generally not great
  • mothering not the best (for outdoor lambing, anyway)
  • too friendly in a mixed flock - don't drive well!
  • too much leg length - makes them difficult to turn
  • not the greatest conformation
  • fleece not very remarkable for spinning and so on
  • not a British breed, and with upwards of 50 British breeds to choose from, why wouldn't you?
  • Zwartbles here seem more susceptible to flystrike than primitive types
  • higher incidence of mastitis in Zwartbles ewes than other breeds here

But they do have their plus points :
  • very tame (is a plus and a minus!)
  • very milky ewes, so lambs grow well - but ewes may need supplemental feed
  • meat is fabulous, nearly as tasty as pure Shetland

Shetland and Cheviot are both fab breeds, in my eyes.  Great fleece, lots of crafting applications.  Lambs born without assistance, generally jump up and round the milk bar very quickly.  However, Cheviot is slower-growing than Zwartbles, so you may get Zwartbles x Shetlands away sooner than Cheviot x Shetlands.

In the experience from here, all first cross Zwartbles lambs are black.  Much harder to sell than white lambs, and black fleeces in the wool sack devalue the whole clip unless you are very rigorous at keeping black fibres out of the white.

I would think Cheviot x Shetland would sell better in both prime and store marts.  And the ewe lambs might sell as breeders - we'd have been interested if still farming in Cumbria.  (We investigated importing Cheviot x Shetland ewe lambs from Shetland, but they'd have never seen a tick, so we decided it was too risky.)

I'm sorry but I would eat the Zwartbles tups.  They taste fab :)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Which tup?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2019, 04:49:38 pm »
Depends on where you are in the country and what kind of cheviot , initial thought would be  to use the Cheviot ram on every thing of a good size and the better Zwartble  ( based on shape not how pretty )  on the smaller blockier sheep to put size into the lambs , advertise the Ryland and Zwartable on preloved or eat


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