The Barbados Blackbelly is a domestic sheep breed from the Caribbean island of Barbados. Although it is likely that the Barbados Blackbelly has African origins, there seems to be clear evidence today that the breed was developed by locals on the island from sheep brought with ships after the first arrival of the Europeans. The breed is a result of crossings of African hair sheep and European wooled breeds that were brought to the island in the mid-1600s.
Barbados Blackbelly sheep thrive in hot, humid environments that are challenging for most sheep. They do well in colder climates too. Barbados Blackbelly reproduce non-seasonally, meaning that they breed and lamb year-round and the ewes maintain pregnancies throughout the heat of the summer. The ewes are prolific, producing twins or triplets and can lamb twice a year under certain husbandry conditions. Barbados Blackbelly are excellent foragers, highly resistant to disease, and can tolerate a higher worm load without requiring chemical intervention.
The current status of the breed is in recovery because due to the low cost of imported lamb from New Zealand, the demand for local lamb has decreased over the last few years. Despite this, the breed is considered a national treasure that should be protected and preserved. The US has taken the breed and adapted it to create the American Blackbelly Sheep, which is in direct competition with the Barbados Blackbelly.Back to the archive >