Barbados blackbelly sheep

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Barbados blackbelly sheep

The Barbados Blackbelly is a breed of domestic sheep from the Caribbean island of Barbados. Although it is likely the Barbados Blackbelly has African ancestry, there seems to be clear evidence that the breed, as seen today, was developed by the people on the island from sheep brought by ships fairly early in the period after Europeans first arrived.

This breed is raised primarily for meat. It is widely distributed, with populations in twenty-five countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. It is most abundant in the Caribbean region, in Mexico and in Peru. In 2015 the total world population was estimated at about 158,000.[1] In 2014, the US reported 1,971 registered sheep.

Classifications

  • Breed Name: Barbados Blackbelly
  • Other Names: Barbados Barriga Nigra, or simply as Black Belly
  • Breed Purpose: Mainly raised for meat
  • Breed Size: Small to medium
  • Weight: Mature ram’s average body weight is between 45 and 59 kg, and the mature ewe’s average live body weight vary from 39 to 45 kg.
  • Horns: Yes
  • Climate Tolerance: Almost all climates
  • Color: Appear in all shades of brown, tan or yellow
  • Rarity: Common
  • Country/Place of Origin: Caribbean

Characteristics

The Barbados Blackbelly sheep are relatively smaller sized animals with fairly deep body and with well-sprung ribs. They appear in all shades of brown, tan or yellow. Their face is generally of black or brown color. And as the name suggests, their belly part is black. They have black points on the nose, forehead and inside of the ears are also black. The rams have a neckpiece of thick hair which extends down the neck to the brisket, some may cover to the shoulder.

Weight

The Barbados Blackbelly is a slow maturing breed and does not reach ideal weight until about 2 years of age. At that time, ewes weigh 85–100 pounds, and rams weigh 100–130 pounds. This relatively small body size has been favored by both natural and human selection in the Caribbean. Smaller sheep tolerate heat more easily, and the smaller carcasses are desirable from the farmers’ point of view, especially when refrigeration is lacking.

History

In 1904, the USDA imported a small flock and transported them for study to Bethesda, Maryland. From that original flock, at least two distinct breeds have emerged in the US, and there is a great deal of confusion in the breed names. In 2004, there were fewer than 200 purebred Barbados Blackbelly sheep in the US, in contrast to a large and growing population of a popular crossbreed, commonly referred to as “Barbado.” Whereas purebred Barbados Blackbelly rams and ewes are polled (hornless), the Barbado is most noted for the regal rack of horns on the rams, and some ewes may also have small horns.

The horns were gained by crossbreeding Barbados Blackbelly with Mouflon and Rambouillet early after they were imported by the USDA. The rams with large horn curl are commercially bred for use on private hunting ranches where size of horn curl is prized by exotic game hunters.

Habitat

Extremely versatile they exist in a wide variety of habitats worldwide, ranging from temperate mountain forests to desert conditions. This breed thrive in the hot, humid environments that are challenging for most sheep but also do well in colder climates.

Facts

Sheep of both sexes are polled. The Barbados Blackbelly is a slow maturing breed and does not reach ideal weight until about 2 years of age. At that time, ewes weigh 85–100 pounds, and rams weigh 100–130 pounds. This relatively small body size has been favored by both natural and human selection in the Caribbean.

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