Weight: 90 pounds for ewes; 125 pounds for rams. Horns of rams usually
curve back and outward. They have cloven hoofs and slim ankles. Muscular
upper legs help them move quickly and easily. They have no upper incisors,
but have 8 lower incisors. They also have 6 grinding teeth on the back part
of each jaw. Barbados sheep have brown to almost red or light tan sides and
back with a black belly and black markings on the legs, head, chin, neck and
ears. Faces are light with black markings.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Domestic sheep are raised in all parts of the world except the polar
regions. In the U.S. most sheep are raised west of the Mississippi.
Grass, weeds and shrubs on range. Supplemented with grain and hay on
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Barbados rams become fertile at 6 months. Females begin breeding at six
months and most will lamb every 8 months. Gestation period is 5 months. A
ewe will birth twins about 4 out of 5 times and triplets are not uncommon.
Single lambs weigh about eight pounds, twins, four to five pounds. Lambs are
born without human assistance, a credit to their wild ancestry. Life span is
Sheep can bite off grass much closer to the ground than cattle are able
to. They can live without water for long periods. These sheep grow a long
winter coat of hair with a very fine undercoat of wool if they live in a
cold climate. When it becomes warmer, the undercoat sheds first.
Barbados sheep are also known as Blackbelly Barbados.
Barbados are hair sheep, as opposed to wool sheep. The Barbados breed
were originally developed in the West Indies island of Barbados from hair
sheep brought in by African slave traders during the 1600s. They were
shipboard sources of milk and meat. In 1904, the USDA crossed the Barbados
with the European Mouflon to develop a better meat sheep that did not need
shearing and was prolific and disease and parasite resistant. The meat is
low in fat and cholesterol, but high in protein.
Domestic sheep yield wool, milk, meat and leather and also furnish raw
materials for glue, tallow, suet, soap, fertilizer, cosmetics, and catgut
used in stringing tennis rackets.
STATUS IN THE WILD:
Only found in domesticated state. The pure European Mouflon sheep survive
in small numbers on reserves and in zoos.
- Nowak, Ronald. 1991. Walker’s Mammals of the World, 5th Ed. Vol II.
- Internet: www.blackbellysheep.org; www.apolonia.net/Caprifield/barbados