Friday, March 10, 2017

Breed Profile #4: Barbados Blackbelly Sheep

Okay, last breed of sheep from True Colors Farm in Maine!!  

Tomorrow will start a new series - I'll be visiting Grazing Hill Farm in Conway, NH.  They have piglets!!!!!  :D  

But today, I'll just do a quick profile on an interesting breed of sheep - the Barbados Blackbelly.


(See the arrows?  I believe that those ones are the Barbados sheep.  The others are Barbados x Katahdin lambs, and our friend from last night, the Cheviot, who thinks she blends in perfectly...)


As you might suspect based on their name, Barbados sheep originated on the island of Barbados.  They're probably a cross of African hair sheep and European wool sheep, but they soon became their own breed and were possibly established as an item of commerce by the mid-1600's.  

They're a hair sheep, meaning that they don't have wool to shear.

They are hardy, not just in cold climates, but often in tropical locations, where wool sheep would struggle with the heat, humidity and parasites.  Barbados Blackbellies are, in fact, known for being able to resist parasites and diseases that would quickly bring down a wool herd.

While they can be bred young, and under good management can bear lambs up to twice a year, they take up to two years to reach their full adult weight of 85-130 pounds.  That makes them a little small for a market sheep, but a smaller sheep was more desirable in tropical climates without refrigeration.  Their meat is known for being exceptionally lean and mild-flavored.


They're described as a very active, alert breed.  Brenda, the owner of the sheep in these photos, says that they're flighty and hard keepers.  I read that they're very reactive to dogs...and I noticed that these sheep kept their eye on Thane and me, clustering watchfully behind their attack llama.

So...it sounds like an interesting breed, but perhaps not one for the beginner, especially a beginner with a herding breed dog!  If I was looking for meat sheep, though, Barbados crossbreeds might be a good choice, particularly if the parasite resistance was passed along to the next generation.

Yes, Llama, I see you...don't worry - I'm definitely not coming any closer!!
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1 comment:

  1. They have angry eyebrows! Lol!
    Also, I had no idea that "hair sheep" was a thing. I thought all sheep gave wool. Huh. Learn something new every day.
    -Rachel

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