Barbados Blackbelly Sheep


Basic Information

Barbados Blackbelly are a relatively small, tropical hair sheep valued because they require minimal care (no shearing or docking), are very hardy in all climates, generally produce twins without assistance, and provide exceptionally mild-flavored, lean meat. Like other breeds of sheep, they live to be 10-13 years old. A ewe's productivity usually begins to decline after the age of 7. Lambs of both sexes are fertile as early as 4 months old but generally are bred no earlier than 7 months. Ewes come into estrus every 17 days and are fertile throughout the year. Gestation (how long a lamb is carried in the womb) takes 150-155 days.

Barbados Blackbelly are slow to mature, and sheep do not reach ideal weight until about 2 years of age. At that time,
  • rams weigh 100 to 130 lb on average.
  • ewes weigh 85 to 100 lb on average.
At 9 months of age, a ram will weigh between 75 to 90 lb. This is generally the preferred weight to butcher a ram.

Breed Standard

The Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association Int'l (BBSAI) is the registry for Barbados Blackbelly sheep and sets the standards to which the breed is judged for registration. Click here to view a copy of the breed standard.

Two of my ram lambs have developed scurs even though their sire is totally polled. Is a ram with scurs less valuable or desirable than a ram with no scurs?

Scurs occur! Many adult polled rams had scurs as lambs that were broken off during a fight with other rams. Some people knock the scurs off so that they won't get caught on fencing. These rams, then, appear to have been polled all along. There is nothing wrong with scurs. Rams and ewes on the island of Barbados are polled or have short scurs. Even though your ram and ewe do not have scurs or horns they may still carry the trait for scurs or even for larger horns. So if a ewe with the genes to produce scurs mates with a ram with genes to produce scurs then they may produce offspring with scurs. About 1 in 10 purebred rams from polled parents will get horns large enough that they should be culled rather than bred.