The man who established the North Country Cheviot breed in Wales is celebrating 50 years since he first brought a small flock down from the Black Isle.
David Pittendreigh’s Coedyfoel flock quickly became renowned and numbers peaked at 100, with his breeding stock going on to start 53 flocks in West Wales.
Recognition for his service to the breed was recognised when David was made Honorary Life President at the last AGM of the North Country Cheviot Society. He was also presented with the Quaich Cup in recognition of all he has done for society, encouraging new members and mentoring youngsters. He also selected and prepared sheep for the breed stand at the Royal Welsh Show until last year.
It’s a huge source of pride that there are now 90 members in Wales and he says: “When I came here in 1971, I bought Llanwenog sheep. Then a few people asked for a Cheviot ram at that time. I had been a shepherd on Black Isle, north of Inverness, so I phoned my old boss and bought 50 ewes. At that time people wanted to put them on Welsh ewes to get more size and then put the Blue-faced Leicester on to get the Welsh Half bred.
“Their purpose now is to put the Blue Faced Leicester on the North Country Cheviot, to get a Cheviot Half bred. It has a bigger frame to put to a continental or other tup.”
David has been an enthusiastic supporter of the NSA Wales & Border Ram Sales since the early days. He says it’s always been a very good sale for the Cheviots and, apart from private sales, it’s his main outlet. And he anticipates a good sale this year, with around 120 rams forward. They attract interest from North Wales, Monmouth, Hereford and beyond.
The cost of joining the NSA in order to be able to sell at the event is, he feels, a bonus not a penalty – a good means of introducing breeders to the organisation. He says the lobbying and policy work is second to none in the industry and praises Chief Executive Phil Stocker for his skill in negotiating with Government and opinion formers.
He’s 82 and, while there’s little evidence of advancing age, David has begun to reduce flock numbers. He is now down to 45 ewes.
He still lambs outside at his farm in Llanllwni, beginning on 10th March this year. He copes with the lambing on his own, although two years ago his granddaughter and a friend who wanted to be a vet helped out. He enjoys the camaraderie of pedigree breeding, recalling the 1980s trips to Scotland with fellow breeders John Lloyd and Gwynne Davies, the Tup Sunday visits on the eve of the sale at Hawick and the ensuing parties.
These days though there is nothing like the quiet satisfaction of checking his flock or talking sheep with one of the North Country Cheviot breeders he has mentored over the years.
The NSA Wales & Border Ram Sales Main Sale will take place at the Royal Welsh Showground on Monday 18th September.