Martok
April 15, 2011
Cheviot Doll sheep
Photo by Sue Weaver
Chrysanthemum, a Cheviot Doll sheep, was cute as a lamb.

Have you ever heard of Cheviot Dolls? They’re half Babydoll Southdown and half Miniature Cheviot or Classic Cheviot. We’re going to get one!

Mom wrote an article about Babydoll Southdowns for the May/June 2007 issue Hobby Farms. At the same time, her friend Rebecca and Danielle Russell of Glenwood, Iowa, were raising two Babydoll Southdown ewe lambs. Rebecca’s ram is a handsome black Classic Cheviot ram named Woolson who came from our little flock, so when the Babydoll lambs, Lily and Tutu, got old enough, Woolson got to be their boyfriend. Voilà, Cheviot Doll lambs! Rebecca sold her first lambs, Chrysanthemum, Jazzmyn and Thorn to Abby Glann of Sugar Creek Farm in Swan, Iowa. Now she’s raises Cheviot Dolls, too.

If you didn’t read Mom’s Babydoll Southdown article, “Oh Baby!,” you can order a digital copy. Otherwise, here are a few things to know about Babydoll Southdown sheep:

Cheviot Doll lambs
Photo by Sue Weaver
This year, Chrysanthemum had lambs of her own.

Babydoll Southdowns are the same size and build as the original British Southdown sheep developed around 1780 by John Ellman of Glynde of Sussex, England. Southdowns are one of the oldest of the Down breeds. (Those are meat breeds that originated in the chalk downs of southern England.) However, after World War II, consumers wanted larger cuts of meat, so the original small Southdowns were crossed with larger New Zealand Southdowns to produce today’s bigger, longer-legged, Southdown sheep

Olde English Babydoll Southdown Registry founder, Robert Mock, began searching for old-type Southdowns in 1990. He renamed them Olde English Babydoll Southdowns (Babydolls) so people wouldn’t confuse them with today’s commercial Southdowns. Unlike their ancestors, Babydoll Southdowns aren’t raised for meat. They’re sweet and gentle, so they’re mostly kept for pets. And, handspinners love their short, soft wool in white, shades of black and even spotted. Babydoll Southdowns are carpeted with wool from head to toes with only their ears and noses sticking out. And they always look like they’re smiling. They’re so cute!

Cheviot Dolls are a nice compromise between Babydoll Southdowns and Miniature or Classic Cheviot sheep. Cheviot Dolls have longer, springier fleece than Babydoll Southdowns and less wool on their faces and legs. That can be a good thing because sometimes, Babydoll Southdowns get “wool blind” when they have so much wool they can’t see out; then you have to “wig” them by trimming the wool around their eyes. 

And Rebecca’s giving Mom a Cheviot Doll ewe lamb! There are two to choose from, but Mom and Rebecca haven’t decided which one will be ours. Maybe we will raise Cheviot Dolls in the future? When I find out, I’ll let you know!

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