Not all sheep are white and woolly. The Barbado sheep is a brown and black "Hair" breed. Some people are finding hair sheep to be a lower maintenance sheep in places where wool is no longer of value. Hair sheep are also smaller, making them easier to work with, and they possess some other great qualities.
Barbado sheep should not be confused with the breed known as the Barbados Blackbelly. Barbados Blackbelly are a polled breed (no horns). Barbado sheep are sometimes referred to as "American Blackbelly sheep". Barbado sheep have big curled horns on the rams, and occasionally on the ewes. The breed originated in Texas by breeding Barbados Blackbelly to Rambouilette and Mouflon, a primitive breed.
As Trophy animals, the rams with mature horns in good condition, are very sought after.
As meat animals. They are said to be tastier, and hold their flavor well, even in more mature animals.
Pasture control. Sheep not only graze grass down, they also will eat some weeds.
Companion Animals. Sheep are often kept with goats, donkeys, or mini horses, as companion animals.
As pets, or for petting zoos. Because of their unique appearance they are desired as unusual animals.
They are sometimes used in cross breeding operations, but care must be given that the ewes are not too much smaller than the breed of the ram, or there will be a loss of both lambs and ewes at lambing time.
The color ranges from light tan to dark brown. There should be no solid white markings, although white hairs are allowed. Black should extend on the chin, throat, belly, and the legs, as well as the underside of the tail and ears. They may have some wool, but should be mostly "hair" which sheds in the spring to a thinner, shorter, coat. The tails are short or reach to the hocks, but do not require docking as in other breeds.
The average height on a male at the withers is 80 centimeters (32 inches) in the rams, and 65 centimeters (26 inches) in the ewes, with an average weight of 55 kg for rams, and 45 kg for ewes. They tend to have a "thinner" look than most wool breeds, and in fact their meat is less fatty, but well muscled. The lambs have a slower growth rate than wool breeds, but they are feed efficient.
Care and Behavior:
As one year olds it is preferred that they only have one lamb, but in subsequent years they may have one or two lambs, (sometimes even three) and the ewes are generally good mothers. Additionally they can breed at any time of the year.
Barbado sheep tend to have a better resistance to parasites. Because they can grow longer hair in the colder months, and shed in the summer, they are also quite tolerant of weather extremes (wool sheep suffer in the heat unless they get their wool sheared). Of course, like any animal, they should have shelter in the winter in the form of a barn.
In warm areas they are fine on grass, in areas with snow cover they will require hay and grain in the winter.
Barbado sheep have a moderate herding instinct and despite their wild appearance, can be quite friendly if handled when young.
The horns on the rams actually make a good way of holding on to them, rather grabbing them by their legs which risks injury to their joints.
As mentioned, they do not require shearing, or tail docking.