Other common names: Barbados Sheep; BBB
Barbados Blackbelly Sheep originated on the Caribbean island of Barbados, although studies have shown that these sheep may actually have West African ancestry. They were first introduced to the United States in 1904.
According to the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association International (BBSAI), "Barbados Blackbelly rams and ewes are polled (they have no horns)." This distinguishes the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep from separate, horned breeds like the American Blackbelly Sheep and the Mouflon-Barbados, which are crossbreds between the Barbados Blackbelly and Rambouillet and Mouflon Sheep.
Appearance / health:
Barbados Sheep have a yellowish to brownish tan body color with black or dark areas on the bellies (hence the other name Barbados Blackbelly) and oftentimes down the insides of the legs. Black markings appear on the nose, forehead, and inside of the ears. Ewes and rams are polled or have tiny horns. They have medium to thick hair (no wool). The body shape resembles antelopes or small deer. The heavier set rams have long, thick hair that flows from the neck to the shoulder.
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.
Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.
As domesticated animals, sheep make good pets because they are docile and easily connect with humans, especially lambs that are bottle-fed. Miniature breeds and sheep that have hair instead of fur make ideal pets. Raising pet sheep is a popular project in the 4-H youth organization.
Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.
Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.
For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.
Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.
beautiful sheep, exotic black markings, hardy sheep, exceptional meat, commands top dollar
flighty, male sheep, skittish personalities
hair sheep, bit different tasting, great mothers
Ideal pet sheep
To a typical city-dweller, keeping a sheep is out of the question. Understandably so, too; where would you find an affordable city property with acres of pasture for your sheep to roam free in?! Are sheep even a viable option as pets? How do you take care of their woolly coats with what little time you have? Might as well just get a cat, right?
Cats are great, but as for the reasoning there: wrong! It is completely possible to keep a sheep in an urban environment!
For starters: you don't need acres and acres and acres. A small garden is perfectly acceptable. I live in a capital city, and I see people walking their sheep and goats every now and then, all of them pretty happy with their surroundings, and quite comfortable (The goats and sheep, not the people!) on a leash. Some sheep can even be kept as house animals, but that's not really ideal. Still, you can quite easily give a sheep enough space.
Now, here comes one of my favourite traits of the Barbados Blackbelly: they are hair sheep, meaning that they don't grow great thick woolly coats that require regular shearing by seasoned professionals. Their coats shed annually, leaving no mess for you, unless you've decided to be strange and keep your sheep shut up inside...
Now, a bit more about sheep as pets: regardless of whether you have fields aplenty for roaming in, or a little box garden at the back of your house, you need to get more than one sheep. Sheep, like humans and dogs, for example, are social animals, and will likely become over-attached to you or just get distressed without the company of other sheep. Plus, it's fun to watch them interact and, well... live the sheepy life!
Another ideal trait of your sheep is a distinct lack of testosterone. If you want rams, get them castrated, or get some ewes. If you aren't a professional breeder, I would suggest not breeding them yourself - buy more sheep if you want more.
To save you having to read an impenetrable wall of writing, I will summarise other tips for keeping pet sheep that go for all breeds:
-Their hooves need trimming, the same way dogs' nails need cutting.
-Sheep are social, especially if you bottle-feed them as lambs - don't be nervous of touching them!
-Know that sheep are suitable for children, but supervise them around your child(ren).
-Sheep can eat common weeds!
-Feed your sheep according to their grazing pattern (Give them access to food in the early morning, and feed them at noon and around sunset hours).
-Make sure the sheep have access to shade.
-Winter housing is also important.
-Feed pregnant ewes extra.
So far, these are the best little tips I've come across when it comes to looking after sheep, and as for the Barbados Blackbelly in particular: it's a great choice of breed if you just want a pet! They need no shearing, aren't horned, and can look rather stunning. I miss mine!.
From AllThingsDog Nov 10 2014 3:57PM
Barbados Blackbelly sheep are so much fun to raise, but are very different than the more traditional sheep breeds. iI you have experience with the mild-mannered Cheviot, or one of the other domestic breeds, the Barbados will surely throw you for a loop.
Afraid of their own shadow, the Barbados is difficult to catch when the need arises. When your vet doc comes around to give shots or medicine, or if the case may be, you are giving the dose yourself, it's a whole different ballgame with a Barbados. There are many times in the life of a sheep when it is beneficial to be able to handle them. Their skittish personalities are a big obstacle to this.
Other than this one drawback, I find the Barbados to be wonderful to keep. They enjoy living in small herds, in numbers from three to twenty or so. A couple of acres of pasture land will accommodate twenty Barbados very well. They are quite social in nature and are content nibbling with the herd.
The upshot of their nervousness is that they are not easy for predators to catch. One spook from a loud noise and they are off and running. When one runs, most of the pack is sure to follow.
Barbados meat is delicious, actually a delicacy, a bit different tasting than other domestic lamb, perhaps a bit gamier, but very good.
They thrive in hot climates and their hair is short, so there is no grooming or shearing to be done. This makes them somewhat easy to keep.
The ewe's first offspring is usually born solo, but thereafter twins are common.
The Barbados have pros and cons to raising them. It's a good idea to consider all of their attributes before deciding if they are right for your farm..
From thegunslinger Jul 20 2015 9:31PM
Rescue sheep - Barbie-Q
It was the night of Halloween and this sheep came bounding onto our property. After a bit of chasing, the sheep was successfully coralled in the goat yard. Given a separate stall, we hoped that she would calm down and become docile.
However, she was wild, skittish, and crazy. By day she'd pace the top of the pasture, as far from us as possible. At night, she'd charge down to her stall and woe betide anyone in her way.
After six months of trying to tame her, we enjoyed sheep roasts for the first time. The meat was high quality, and better than our goat. Undoubtedly sheep raised in a good people environment will not be as skittish - we do not know how she was raised or treated before arriving on our property.
I would recommend the Barbados Black Belly for someone wanting to raise meat animals, without needing to worry about the fiber. The Barbados is a down breed, and so naturally sheds instead of requiring shearing..
From WoadWarrior May 19 2014 5:42PM