BREED: American Miniature Cheviot Sheep
SPECIES: Ovis aries
COLOR/PATTERN: White, black, beige, or silver wool
HEIGHT: 17 to 23 inches
WEIGHT: 45 to 100 pounds
REGION OF ORIGIN: Scotland
Imagine you’re counting sheep. What do they look like? Are they round, fluffy cotton balls with stick legs and little smiling faces? Imagine no more, friends, because we’ve found the sheep of your dreams.
The American Miniature Cheviot (pronounced SHEV-e-ut) is what’s known as a dual-purpose sheep: They are bred for both meat and wool, although more often they are kept as pets. Their bright, inquisitive nature makes them a favorite choice of hobby farmers. American Miniatures are allegedly descended from a Canadian flock of small Cheviot sheep purchased at a livestock auction and brought to the United States; because they were not purposely bred for their size, they are not considered a true miniature breed. Though not directly related, these little fluffs share a name with the Brecknock Hill Cheviot breed native to Wales.
All but the face and legs of a Miniature Cheviot is covered in soft, crimped, low-grease wool that grows to 3 or 4 inches in length, ideal for fiber arts. The shorn wool maintains its elasticity, which makes it a great choice for knitted garments like socks and hats. Ewes produce up to 100 liters of milk a year, but most of it goes to their lambs—Miniature Cheviots are not typically kept as dairy animal.