The great advantage of the North Country Cheviot as a terminal sire is that the lambs produced are consistently of good conformation and finish at all weights without becoming over-fat.
The NCC Ram can be used, for example, as a terminal sire on the Mule ewe to improve the conformation of the Mule cross. The resulting lambs are up sucking in minutes after birth, with the hardiness gained from the NCC ensuring that they can withstand poor weather conditions.
The NCC Ram, when put to many of the Welsh Hill Breeds, gives added size and better conformation, as well as improvements in the wool, while retaining all the main characteristics of both the Welsh ewe and the NCC. The cross wether lambs are ideal for store or finishing and are easily marketed, while the females make excellent mothers – kind, milky and prolific.
One cross which is proving very successful in Wales is the result of mating the NCC Ram with the Beulah Speckled Ewe. The females are usually put to terminal sires such as Suffolk, Texel or Beltex, to produce top class, fast-growing lambs.
The different types of North Country Cheviot ensure that crossing rams are available to meet most conditions and NCC rams are keenly sought after by buyers who appreciate the benefits of using the North Country Cheviot as a crossing tup.
Demand for North Country Cheviot Hill Tups is increasing year by year with more and more sheep farmers from the hills and mountains recognising the value of the NCC Hill Ram for crossing with other hill breeds.
In the West Highlands of Scotland the NCC ram is used extensively by Blackface breeders. They are finding that prices in the store ring for the NCC X Blackface lambs are substantially greater than for pure Blackface lambs. Also, quite a number of breeders are “crossing out” – using the NCC over and over again until the flock becomes virtually a pure Cheviot flock.
Practice in the North of England with Swaledales and Herdwicks is similar to that with the Blackface in Scotland. The North Country Cheviot tup is used to give a bigger lamb of better conformation and again there is quite a substantial premium paid for Cross NCC lambs over pure bred Swaledales and Herdwicks. Often females are kept for breeding as they are proving, as with the Welsh hill crosses, to be very good mothers.
The NCC ram is used successfully on other breeds, too, producing a lamb with the carcase quality, in terms of leanness and conformation, that is now required – for example, on Rough Fell, Lonk, Derbyshire Gritstone and Exmoor Horn.
As well as producing top rated lambs another important characteristic of North Country Cheviots is that their working lives are considerably longer than most other breeds.