Barbados. It is believed to have evolved from African descent animals brought by European ships. The original Barbados are polled animals while animals with the characteristics, except that the males have large curled horns, are were first called “Barbado”. In 2004, the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association International (BBSAI) set a breed standard for registering the animals as “American Blackbelly”. The sheep at Elm Tree Farm have not been registered, but the males are horned.
Barbados are smaller and grow more slowly than most wool sheep but the meat is mild-flavored and very desirable. They are disease resistant, parasite tolerant, breed year-round, and do well in hot and cold climates on a grass based diet. In the piedmont North Carolina winter, they develop a wool undercoat that they shed in the summer. They are not as docile as the hair breeds and are very agile jumping and running. Although a challenge to train, children at the farm and their friends show them yearly at the North Carolina State Fair. Adults weigh from 65 to 125 pounds. Some of the original stock at Elm Tree Farm were from an experimental herd imported in the 70’s from the island to North Carolina State University.