Black Bellied Barbados Sheep - ?? availability ??
These sheep are pretty cool I think. This is some of our sheep. The lighter ones are 4 generations away from a Mouflon cross. We separated them into 3 fields, we had quite a few then and in 1 field we added a Mouflon Ram with 3, Black Bellied Barbados Ewes. The other 2 fields were kept pure Black Bellied Barbados lines. We kept the best show Black Bellied traits and slowly sold and traded the Mouflon showing sheep. What we were shooting for was a wider horn on a Black Bellied Barbados ram in addition to new bloodlines. This picture shows some of them coming up my way. The next picture will show the difference in what we achieved. Click to enlarge.
Ram 1 - Ram 2
Both of these have all the Black Bellied Barbados Trait and the one on the Right is Full Blooded. The one on the Left, closest to the group picture however has a much larger spread horn width than his buddy. We have even got small horns on most of our ewes! Notice the tight curl on the full blooded one as opposed to the looser curl on our new Black Bellied Barbados Ram. We do sell and trade on these. Not all of them are however for sale.
These are Hair Sheep. You don't have to shave them. They are and stay pretty wild acting and are not for the person who wants something to pet. They will become adjusted to only a few people. These are prized for their horns and meat.
This found below is a excerpt from another site. For more reading go to on these great sheep go to http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/004/X6517E/X6517E02.htm to learn more.
The island of Barbados. Barbados is the most easterly of the West Indian islands. Its area is only 4,300 square kilometers but its population is 248,000. The climate is equable with temperature ranging between 22°C and 30°C. Annual rainfall is 1520mm, most of which falls between June and December. Unlike most other Caribbean islands, which are volcanic, Barbados is a coral island.
Arable crops, chiefly sugar cane, cover 77 percent of the land area and pasture only 9 percent. This pasture is chiefly rough grazing with native tropical grasses. According to FAO (1978) its livestock population consists of 49,000 sheep, 38,000 pigs, 26,000 goats, 18,000 cattle and 5,000 equines.
Origin and history of the Barbados Blackbelly. It is generally agreed that these hair sheep were introduced into Barbados from West Africa. They have existed in Barbados for well over three hundred years. Ligon in “A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados” (1657) wrote (on p. 59) “We have here, but very few [sheepe]; and these do not like well the pasture, being very unfit for them; a soure tough and saplesse grasse, and some poisonous plant they find, which breeds diseases amongst them, and so they dye away, they never are fat, and we thought a while the reason had been, their too much heate with their wool, and so got them often shorne; but that would not cure them, yet the Ews bear always two Lambs, their flesh when we tried any of them had a very faint taste, so that I do not think they are fit to be bred or kept in that Country: other sheep we have there, which are brought from Guinny and Binny, and those have haire growing on them instead of wool; and are liker Goates than Sheep, yet their flesh is tasted more like mutton than the other”.
“Guinny” is clearly Guinea, the Gulf rather than the present country of that name. “Binny” may be-Benin, or Benny on the Niger Delta. (For further discussion about West African sheep and the possible origin of the Barbados Blackbelly and the other hair sheep of tropical America, see Section 2.9).
On an earlier page (p. 23) Ligon records that there were no domestic animals, except pigs, on the island when Sir William Curteens landed there in 1624. The two kinds of sheep must have been introduced between 1624 and 1657. It is clear that wool sheep did not thrive; nothing is said about the thrift of the hair sheep. The curious thing is that the high fertility is attributed to the wool sheep whereas it is now the hair sheep which exhibit this characteristic. Could this have been a result of crossbreeding combined with selection? A hundred years later the wool sheep had apparently died out since Hughes (1750) wrote: “The Sheep that are natural to this climate and are chiefly bred here, are hairy like Goats. To be covered with Wool, would be as prejudicial to them in these hot Climates as it is useful in Winter Countries for Shelter and Warmth”.
Numbers. At present the Ministry of Agriculture estimates that there are something over 30,000 sheep in Barbados; about one-third are purebred Blackbelly (see Plates 1–3), another one-third are grade Blackbelly (off-type in colour or with white spots) and the remaining are “others” (see Frontispiece). The last category includes hair sheep of other colours such as, white, tan, black or pied, and crosses with Blackhead Persian and wool sheep (mainly Wiltshire Horn). In fact in or around 1950, simultaneous importations of Wiltshire Horn sheep from the U.K. occurred in Barbados (Patterson, 1976), Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago, 1953) and Guyana (Devendra, 1975) with the objective of improving the quality of local sheep by crossbreeding. It has been estimated in Barbados that about 10 percent of the lambs born from woolless sheep at present are more or less woolly and these are not kept for breeding.
The Blackbelly was the commonest breed on the estates surveyed by Patterson and Nurse (1974). Sixty-three percent had only this breed and on the others the dominant type was Blackbelly crossbred. A few farms kept Wiltshires. The Blackbelly was the dominant breed on all the small farms in the survey; Blackbelly crosses were next in importance and Wiltshires were present on only 12 of the 97 farms surveyed.
Export and present distribution. Because of the high prolificacy of these sheep (as opposed to one lamb per lambing for most of the tropical sheep breeds), they have been in great demand from many countries. As early as 1902 they were exported to St. Lucia and from there to Antigua. In 1903 there was a report of a Blackbelly ewe on Tortola (British Virgin Islands) giving birth to five lambs (Patterson, 1976). They are now widely distributed throughout the Commonwealth Caribbean (the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Leeward and Windward islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana), the French Antilles (Guadeloupe and Martinique) and the Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao and Aruba).
Blackbelly sheep (along with West African and Blackhead Persian) were imported into Venezuela in 1961 from Trinidad and Tobago and from Barbados by the Sección de Zootecnia del Centro de Investigaciones Agronomicas at Maracay (Bodisco, Duque and Valles, 1973). These “West African” sheep are described by Reverón et al. (1976) as uniform light brown with paler belly, face and inner surface of the legs. Some are darker in colour. They are also called “West African” in Trinidad but in Barbados would be described as an off-colour variety of the Blackbelly.
Blackbelly sheep have also been exported to Mexico, Panama and Taiwan. A consignment sent to Canada was slaughtered on arrival because the sheep were found to be positive for bleu-tongue antibodies (Moe, 1975, cited by Williams, 1975), although the disease has not manifested itself clinically in Barbados.
Four yearling ewes and one ram of this breed were originally introduced into the U.S.A. by the U.S.D.A. in 1904 (Rommell, 1904) and were stationed at Bethesda, Maryland (Patterson, 1976). Flocks of these sheep are now located at North Carolina State University (Prof. Lemuel Goode), at Texas A & M University Experiment Station (at least until recently) (Dr. Maurice Shelton), and at Dixon Ranch, California (Prof. G.M. Spurlock) (see Plate 4); more recently, a small flock of crossbred Blackbelly sheep has been located at Ohio State Agricultural Experiment Station (Dr. Charles Parker) as part of a cooperative research programme with the International Sheep and Goat Institute, Utah (Foote, 1977).
In central Texas, and particularly on Edward's Plateau, there is a large population of hair sheep. These are descended from the Blackbellies introduced at the beginning of the century. Later, about 25 years ago, they were crossed with European mouflon in order to put horns on the males and now they are bred primarly as game animals. There has also been some crossing with Rambouillet (Shelton, 1976; Foote, 1977). The colour of these sheep is now very variable. It may be tan, tan with pale belly, tan with black belly, black or pied. The males all carry horns which may be of the mouflon type or the Rambouillet type (Spurlock, 1974; Mason, 1978). There used to be upwards of a quarter of a million of these hair sheep in Texas. Now the numbers are much less, possibly something over 100,000. Predation by coyotes is one of the causes of this decline, also slaughter and export (mostly to Mexico).
The rams of such flocks, which are semi-feral, are commonly used for hunting on game ranches in Texas and have been shipped to other states for this purpose. Most of the California Blackbelly flocks are either for meat for domestic consumption, or the animals are kept as pets or as game for hunting (Spurlock, 1974, 1976). These sheep in the U.S.A. are called by various names such as mouflon-Barbados, Black Bellied Barbados, West Indian Blackbelly, Barbados, Barbadol, Barb, or most commonly Barbado.
In an attempt to build up numbers a ban on exports from Barbados was imposed in June 1974. Since it did not have the desired effect it was lifted in July 1976.
Colour. Body colour varies from light to dark reddish-brown (tan) with very conspicuous black underparts. The black colouration covers the lower jaw, the chin, throat, breast, entire belly, axillary and inguinal regions, and inner sides of the legs, and extends as a narrow line along the underside of the tail nearly to the tip. On the outer side of each leg the paler colour persists dorsally only as a restricted and more or less broken stripe. The inner surface of the ear is black, and there is a conspicuous black stripe on the face above and anterior to each eye and to the tip of the muzzle. In the adult male the occipital area immediately behind the horn bases is also black. Where the hair is short, as on the breast and belly, the black area is sharply delimited, but in the longer hair of the outer sides of the thighs and on the mane of the male the transition from black to pale colour is more gradual. The colour of the back and sides is reddish-brown, which becomes paler on the face, the sides of the neck, and the flanks. A white spot is found below and slightly in front of each eye and sometimes another smaller white spot above it. The tip of the tail may occasionally be white.
The black belly pattern is termed badger-face by geneticists whether the back is white or tan. It is in the agouti series and appears to be recessive to self-colour white or tan but dominant to black (Lauvergne and Adalsteinsson, 1976).
Appearance and size. Johnson (1944) has given a good description of the colour and appearance of these sheep. They differ from what is considered a desirable mutton type in being far too narrow-bodied, long-necked, and angular. Patterson (1976) called them “decidedly leggy”; however, Johnson (1944) indicated that these sheep are less leggy than some other of the African types. The ears are of medium size and do not droop (i.e. they are carried horizontally). The dorsal outline of the muzzle is not conspicuously convex as it is in the Dorset or Suffolk, but there is a slight tendency towards Roman nose in the rams. There is no unusual deposit of fat on the rump or tail which reaches to the hocks. The breed is normally hornless but occasionally rams are scurred and even less often they carry small bluishgrey horns that describe only about half a spiral. On the other hand, the rams of present-day Barbado sheep in the U.S.A. are almost entirely horned and horns curl backwards and outwards, or may describe a full spiral.
The hair of the body averages about 2.5 cm long and in texture resembles that of a domestic goat. The hair of Barbado sheep is much longer, perhaps as protection against lower temperatures. Gallagher and Shelton (1973) reported the mean fibre diameter for Barbado sheep and non-Angora meat-type goat (Spanish goat) as 49.0 and 32.4 microns respectively and concluded that the Barbado showed an abnormal extension towards coarse fibre type. Any sign of wool on Blackbelly sheep in Barbados is believed to be due to past crossing with the Wiltshire Horn and is selected against. The male carries a throat ruff and a well developed mane of hair 10 to 15 cm long.
In size and general proportions, they resemble the medium-sized breeds. The average height at withers varies from 60 to 70 cm in the ewes and 75 to 81 cm in the rams. The adult rams weigh from 50 to 70 kg and ewes weigh from 32 to 43 kg (Maule, 1977; Mason, 1978). The average weight for mature Barbado sheep has been reported as 45 kg for ewes and 48 to 57 kg for rams (Spurlock, 1974).
Adaptability, behaviour and temperament. Barbados Blackbelly sheep are hardy and well adapted to a semi-arid tropical environment in which they have been reared for at least three centuries in close association with man. They seem to tolerate moderate variations in environmental temperatures quite well and at times show some degree of physiological adaptation. For example, one of the sheep that was imported into the U.S.A. in 1904 developed a considerable amount of wool on its shoulders presumably as a reaction to the cooler Maryland climate (Patterson, 1976). In the Caribbean, these sheep can be seen grazing at high noon.
Patterson (1976) has noted that the ewes show good maternal behaviour and normally make excellent mothers. Their milk production is good and they can easily rear up to three lambs if adequately fed. Poor mothering ability is sometimes apparent among young, nervous mothers, particularly those in their first lambing. Sometimes an ewe may allow the lambs born first to suckle while ignoring the others. Ewes will almost never accept strange lambs so that fostering orphan lambs is not possible; one must resort to artificial rearing of lambs in excess of three per litter.
The fact that these sheep have traditionally been reared in small flocks in close association with man has rendered them intelligent, gentle and docile. In fact, they make good pets. On the other hand, Dr. Reverón at Maracay (Venezuela) described them as having a nervous temperament.
Barbado sheep in the U.S.A. have also been described as of wild temperament (Shelton, 1976; Foote, 1977). However, Spurlock (1974) has made the following observations:
“These sheep, though reared as feral stock or from their progeny, become extremely gentle with close handling. They are, however, quick to react to strange people or new surroundings but adjust well after a short period. They appear to be quite intelligent as compared to other sheep, make excellent pets, and at least some individuals reared off their mothers are able to recognize their individual names.
“Observation indicates that while they withstand heat or cold well, part of this adjustment to extremes is behavioral rather than physiological. For instance cold wind or warm sun rather quickly results in a flock finding refuge in some shelter under conditions when wooled sheep remain in the open. They are extremely reactive to strange dogs or cats, usually acting as though wishing to flee. In a close corral and in defense of young, less timid individuals show protective behavior, raising a front leg as though warning off the predator and occasionally bristling the hair on top of the neck and even jumping at the animal to strike with the forefeet. Ewes with very young lambs show protective behavior to a high degree. Some individual rams will charge dogs repeatedly with little or no provocation.”
“Mating behavior is similar to that of other sheep but heat in the females appears to be more evident. The ewes adopt a mating stance in front of the ram and look backover the shoulder to the ram. They stand steady on mounting. In the mating stance the ewe shakes her tail quickly from side to side and this behavior appears to excite the ram which mates repeatedly, at short intervals over the mating period of approximately 48 hours. Rams start chasing ewes approximately 48 hours prior to standing heat. If one or more ewes are not in heat or coming in, the ram will perform rape on any ewe in any convenient crowded situation”.
Boyd (1978) noted that barbado rams would mount other rams when in mulisire groups.
Management. Sheep farming in Barbados is normally a secondary interest and as such a backyard operation. Traditionally, sheep have been kept by peasant farmers as a ready source of cash or of meat for special occasions. About 80 percent of the sheep population in Barbados exists in flocks of 5 to 10 sheep. After having recognized the export value of these sheep, farmers have now joined under the umbrella of the “Barbados sheep Farmers Association” formed in 1975. There are about 60 members controlling about 20 percent of the total sheep in the country (Rastogi, 1975). Apart from a few large flocks kept by estates, the only sheep “farm” is the Government experimental farm at Greenland and more recently at Sedge Pond.
The larger flocks on the estates are reared under an extensive system whereby sheep are allowed to graze during the day and are penned during the night to guard against predators and larceny. Some estate farmers supplement grazing, especially in the dry season, with waste vegetables or with sugarcane tops ensiled with molasses and urea. Small farmers, however, follow the tethering system of management whereby 3 to 5 sheep are grazed in a group along the roadsides. Thus, children or cheap family labour is made use of to manage the sheep.
The majority of farmers deworm their sheep routinely every 3 months (Patterson and Nurse, 1974). Lambs are normally allowed to run with and suckle their mothers as long as the ewe will permit; if they are to be sold lambs are weaned at 8 weeks. Casteration of young lambs is almost never practised in Barbados.
Health. The health status of any sheep population is affected to a great extent by the degree of rainfall and humidity. In Barbados, most sheep are located in the drier coastal areas and are normally free of any major diseases. It has been claimed that they exhibit high tolerance or possess natural resistance to internal parasites (Shelton, 1976; Thompson, n.d.). Yazwinski, Goode and Moncol (1976) reported from North Carolina that Barbado sheep and their crosses are more resistant to gastro-intestinal parasites (primarily Haemonchus contortus) than purebred Dorsets and Suffolks. Barbado and their crosses had lower faecal egg counts, higher haemoglobin levels, higher haemoglobin concentrations per haematocrit and higher white blood cell counts than Dorsets and Suffolks. On the other hand, Mansfield et. al., (1977) found no significant difference in resistance to infection with H. contortus larvae between lambs sired by Targhee and by Barbado rams.
Prof. Thompson, working at Texas Technical University, stated that the Barbado seemed to be healthier and sturdier in confinement than the Rambouillet.
Notwithstanding the above, gastro-intestinal parasites have been identified as the major health problem. Most important of these is Haemonchus although coccidiosis is also observed. Ungria (n.d.) diagnosed the presence of a new species of coccidia (Eimeria granulosa) and consequently he advised that all imported sheep be treated with sulphonamides in addition to the routine anthelmintic treatment.
Other diseases mentioned are mange, footrot, pink eye, tick fever, pneumonia, mastitis, and metritis. Nevertheless, Patterson and Nurse (1974) report that sickness is very uncommon among sheep in Barbados. Footrot and pneumonia are more prevalent among exotics and their crosses. In Venezuela, myiasis has been identified as the major problem when sheep are on pasture under poor weather conditions but not so if confied indoors. Recently, there was high mortality among older ewes towards the end of pregnancy, particularly if they were carrying three or more foetuses (Reverón, 1978). In Guyana, enterotoxaemia has been suspected to be the major cause of high mortality among lambs. Recently, adult Blackbelly sheep at Ebini in the Intermediate Savannahs, Guyana, have been suffering from weakness of the hindquarters (not white muscle disease) or staggers, the cause of which has not yet been identified in spite of help from PAHO experts (Nurse, 1978).
Prolificacy. One of the most outstanding qualities of Blackbelly sheep is their high prolificacy; multiple births (twins and triplets) are common. The survey of Patterson and Nurse (1974), which covered 167 ewes on 18 estates and 369 ewes on 97 small farms revealed that two was the most frequent litter size on estates but there were a few producers who had litters of three. On small farms the average litter size was stated to be two. This estimate for litter size is confirmed by the figures given in the report of Patterson (1978) and quoted in Table 1. Litters of five or more lambs have occasionally been recorded (Johnson, 1944; Patterson, 1976). Similar figures emerge from the records reported by Laurie (1978) on two private farms in Barbados totalling about 100 ewes. Little size averaged 2.0 and births were distributed as follows: single births 30 percent, twin births 45 percent, triplet births 24 percent, quadruplet births 1.5 percent, quintuplet births 0.4 percent.