The North Country Cheviot Sheep Society is to hold an open day to promote the benefits of the hardy hill breed.

As well as showcasing the breed to farmers in northern England, the Borders and Scotland, the event will include a farm tour, stock judging, a trimming demonstration and hospitality, as well as a chance to raise money for charity.

The open day will take place at Aimshaugh Farm at Alston in Cumbria, CA9 3EL, on Wednesday, July 17.

Robert MacDonald, the society president, said he is expecting a significant turnout as the popularity of the North Country Cheviot had grown significantly over recent years.

Society members have increased dramatically over the breed’s core areas of northern England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of Wales, he added, as commercial farmers have become more aware of the Northies’ traits.

“The Northie is the UK’s largest hill breed, which means it gives body to lambs,” he added.

“Crosses often achieve a higher-than-average price – generally upwards of £10 extra per head – while still being very thrifty and cheap to run.

“Couple this with a great skin and milky ewes that are great mothers, and you can see why they’re growing in popularity among commercial breeders. The open day is about spreading that message further.

“It will take place within easy access of northern England, Scotland and North Wales, and it wouldn’t be too much of a push to attend from Northern Ireland.

“It is the first time the society has tried such an event, but if it proves successful it is likely to become a regular fixture in the calendar.”

A native of the north of Scotland, the North Country Cheviot comes in two types – the Hill type and the Park type.

The Hill type was developed for its thriftiness and health, meaning it thrives in the poorest upland conditions.

Although undoubtedly still a hill breed, the Park type is larger, heavier and perhaps more suited to grassy hills.

Both types make excellent crossing sires, producing sheep to meet most needs.

Rams and ewes are also renowned for their longevity, with draft ewes commanding good prices for their ability to have a further four or five crops of lambs after leaving the hill.

Ewes running on the hill typically return a lambing rate of about 150 to 180 percent with few triplets, enabling them to put more energy into caring for the lambs they produce.

The event is being hosted by Oliver and Sophie Harrison, who run a flock of 650 pure North Country Cheviots and 650 North Country Cheviot crossed with Texel, alongside a fold of Highland Cattle.

Oliver said he was looking forward to hosting the Northie open day.

He said: “To me, the Northie is the ultimate commercial sheep and has something to offer everyone.

“We’re hoping for a big turnout, a great day, and the opportunity to show off our flock to highlight just what a versatile breed this is.”

To register to attend the open day, or for more information, call Corinna Cowin, secretary of the North Country Cheviot Sheep Society, on 07834 817710 or email