The Barbados Blackbelly sheep is a breed of domestic sheep from the Caribbean island of Barbados. It is also known by some other names such as Barbados Barriga Nigra or simply as Black Belly.
Today the breed is raised mainly for meat production. And it is widely distributed in more than 25 countries world-wide, mainly Caribbean and South America. The breed is most abundant in the Caribbean region, in Peru and in Mexico.
Total population of this breed was estimated at about 158,000 in 2015.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep was first imported into the United States in 1904.
And the breed attracted the most interest in Texas, where they were loosely managed and often crossed with Mouflon and Rambouillet for creating a game animal with a large set of horns (the Mouflon is a feral horned sheep breed).
There were about 1971 registered Barbados Blackbelly sheep in the United States in 2014. Read some more information about this breed below.
Barbados Blackbelly Sheep 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.
Head of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep is of medium size and is well in conformation to the neck and body.
The rams especially have a slight tendency to a roman nose. Their ears should not droop, and point forward from the side. Their neck is medium in length, slender in conformation to body size.
The rams are generally heavier and well set to the shoulder. Their legs are generally quite well set. The Barbados Blackbelly sheep are ‘hair sheep’ breed, which means they do not grow wool but have coarse hair instead.
And they often develop a wool undercoat that they shed in the spring, if raised in cooler climates.
Average live body weight of the mature Barbados Blackbelly ewes is between 39 and 45 kg. And average mature body weight of the rams vary from 45 to 59 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep is a meat sheep breed. And currently it is raised mainly for meat production.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep are extremely hardy and strong animals.
They can thrive in the hot and humid environments that are challenging for most sheep but they can also do well in colder climates. They are alert and docile in terms of temperament.
They are very prolific, and they reproduce non-seasonally. That means that, they breed and lamb year-round, and the ewes maintain pregnancies throughout the heat of the summer.
The ewes generally produce twins or triplets and can lamb twice a year under good/certain management conditions.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep are excellent foragers, and they are highly resistant to diseases. They can tolerate a higher worm load without requiring chemical intervention.
Today the breed is raised mainly for meat production. Meat of these animals is of excellent flavor and much milder than most of the usual market lambs.
This is possibly due to less fatness, since the characteristics flavor of lamb meat is primarily in the fat.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep breed is also sometimes used for cross breeding purpose. However, review full breed profile of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep in the following chart.
|Barbados Barriga Nigra, or simply as Black Belly
|Mainly raised for meat
|Extremely hardy and strong animals, can thrive in the hot and humid environments that are challenging for most other sheep breeds, but they can also do well in colder climates, alert and docile temperament, the ewes are highly prolific and they reproduce non-seasonally, generally produce twins or triplets, the ewes can lamb twice a year under certain management conditions, excellent foragers, highly resistant to diseases, can tolerate a higher worm load without requiring chemical intervention, often used for crossbreeding, very good for meat production, high quality meat, excellent flavor and much milder meat than most of the usual market lambs
|Small to medium
|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.
|Almost all climates
|Appear in all shades of brown, tan or yellow
|Country/Place of Origin
Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Facts
Here are top 15 facts and characteristics of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep is known for its adaptability to different environments. The breed is well-suited to grazing on rough terrain and is capable of surviving on poor-quality pasture. They are also able to tolerate hot and humid climates, making them ideal for tropical regions.
The breed is well-adapted to hot and humid climates. The Barbados Blackbelly sheep has a short, fine coat that sheds naturally, which helps to keep the sheep cool in hot climates. The breed has a long, lean body with a deep chest and narrow shoulders, which helps to maximize heat dissipation and increase mobility.
Natural Resistance to Parasites
Barbados Blackbelly sheep have a natural resistance to internal parasites, which is a major benefit for farmers. This means that they require less medication and are less likely to suffer from worm infestations than other sheep breeds.
Barbados Blackbelly sheep are low-maintenance animals. They do not require shearing, as their wool sheds naturally. This means that farmers do not need to invest in expensive shearing equipment, nor do they need to pay for shearing services.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep is well-suited to grazing on rough terrain and is capable of surviving on poor-quality pasture. This makes them ideal for farmers who do not have access to high-quality pasture.
Barbados Blackbelly sheep are primarily raised for meat production. The breed has a high meat-to-bone ratio, which means that they produce a lot of meat per animal. The meat is lean and flavorful, making it a popular choice for consumers.
High Reproduction Rates
Barbados Blackbelly sheep have high reproduction rates. The breed is able to breed year-round, and the ewes typically have two to three lambs per year. This means that farmers can increase their flock size quickly and easily.
Barbados Blackbelly sheep are known for their longevity. The breed has a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years, which is longer than many other sheep breeds.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep has long, curved horns that are found in both males and females. The horns are used for defense against predators and to establish dominance within the flock.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep has a distinctive appearance, with black or dark brown coloration on the head, legs, and belly, while the rest of the body is a light tan color. The breed is also known for its distinctive red eyes.
Hardy and Resilient
Barbados Blackbelly sheep are hardy and resilient animals. They are able to survive in harsh environments and are resistant to many common sheep diseases. This makes them a low-risk investment for farmers.
Ability to Thrive in Small Flocks
Barbados Blackbelly sheep can thrive in small flocks. They are social animals and enjoy being in groups. This means that farmers can keep a small number of sheep and still have a productive flock.
Easy to Handle
Barbados Blackbelly sheep are easy to handle. They are generally calm and docile, which makes them easy to work with. This is beneficial for farmers who do not have a lot of experience handling sheep.
Used in Crossbreeding
Barbados Blackbelly sheep are often used in crossbreeding programs to produce hardier and more adaptable sheep. The breed’s natural resistance to parasites and ability to thrive in harsh environments make them a desirable choice for crossbreeding.
The Barbados Blackbelly sheep has a diverse genetic background. The breed was developed from West African hair sheep that were brought to the Caribbean by slave traders. This has resulted in a breed that is genetically diverse and well-adapted to different environments.