American Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Registry
There is frequently confusion about the name of this breed. In the
United States and Canada, the animals are referred to as
"Barbados." On their island of origin, that name seems to
be unknown; and the breed is referred to as the "Blackbelly."
Although there can be little doubt that the Barbados Blackbelly
has African ancestry, there is compelling evidence that the breed
originated and evolved on the Island of Barbados. In 1904, the USDA
imported a small flock of these sheep to Bethesda, Maryland. This
importation probably formed the basis of the Barbados flocks in the
United States today.
horned rams, which we prize so highly in the U.S. today, were
probably created by the introduction of horned breeds in the U.S.
(The rams in the Caribbean are usually polled, although the
occasional individual with scurs or horns does occur.) Despite this
obvious introduction of other bloodlines, these horned rams are
considered the norm and are acceptable for registration. Ewes in both
locations are usually polled, but occasional individuals grow small scurs.
Blackbellies range in color from light tan to a dark mahogany red,
with black breed markings on the face, legs, belly, inguinal region,
chin, and chest. Animals presented for registration should not be so
dark as to entirely obscure these breed markings. Random spots -
especially white - do occur; but they should not be extensive to the
point where they challenge breed integrity.
their appearance, Blackbelly carcasses are well-muscled. Their long
leg bones and almost total lack of carcass fat create the illusion in
the live animal of alack of development of hind quarters as compared
to shorter-legged early-fattening common commercial breeds.
Barbados Blackbellies are very easy care animals, lambing and
raising twins (or better!) with ease. The ewes are polyestrous; that
is, they readily breed at any time of the year. The lambs are
somewhat slower growing than many commercial breeds; but they do not
need the volume of high-protein type concentrates used to
"finish" such breeds.
Barbados are a breed of hair sheep. Hair sheep are NOT the result
of a goat/sheep crossbreeding, as is commonly thought, but are a
variety of true domestic sheep. All hair sheep are fully fertile in
crosses with wooled breeds and are genetically different from goats.
Growth of a wooly "undercoat" is stimulated when
tropical hair sheep are raised in temperate climates. This undercoat,
which is of no real value, is shed naturally in spring and/or
subsequent to lambing. Despite their tropical
origins, the breed is perfectly comfortable in our northern climate.
Excessive non-shedding wooliness is a very likely
indication of crossbreeding and is