Prized for their beauty, hardiness, and unrivaled flavor, American Blackbelly are one of the most striking breeds of sheep found on the planet. The breed was developed in the 70's by Texas game-ranchers looking to produce larger sheep with bigger horns, and is the result of crossing hornless Barbados Blackbelly with horned Mouflon and Rambouillet sheep. As far as ruminants go, American Blackbelly are about as low maintenance as it gets. They're a breed of hair-sheep, which means they shed their wool each spring without the need for sheering or human assistance. Though American Blackbelly are technically domesticated, they retain many of the favorable traits that their wild ancestors possessed when it comes to immunity, instinct, and behavior. This makes them a little more difficult to 'tame', but also makes them much easier to care for in so many ways. They're extremely parasite and disease resistant, significantly decreasing the need for vaccines, antibiotics, and deworming. They thrive on pasture that would starve out most other breeds of sheep, and require very little to no dietary supplementation. Their hooves rarely need trimming and their tails do not require docking. American Blackbelly retain strong flocking instinct, making them difficult prey for most North American farm predators and good partners for herding dogs. Despite their wild tendencies, they're relatively easy to contain and are not hard on fencing or housing like other larger livestock. One of their most valuable attributes is their reproductive capacity and the maternal fitness of American Blackbelly ewes. Most lamb twice per year, often throwing twins or triplets, and they rarely require assistance giving birth. Lambs are usually up and running before you get the chance to go check on them, and the strong maternal instinct of American Blackbelly ewes almost completely eliminates the need for hands-on lamb rearing. This makes lambing season significantly less demanding when compared to sheep. Due to their slightly smaller frames American Blackbelly are nowhere near as common on today's farms as other meat breeds, however they're nonetheless a great choice for any homesteader looking for a low maintenance breed with high output potential. Once you've tasted Blackbelly, we think you'll agree that the flavor more than makes up for their smaller size.
Though we've only been raising American Blackbelly since 2018, we've fallen in love with them for the reasons above and many more. It took almost a year of research before we decided on this breed (it was down to American Blackbelly, Katahdin, or St Croix), and we couldn't be happier with our choice. Thus far they have exceeded our expectations in almost every regard. We're still in the process of slowly growing our small flock, which currently consists of 3 rams and 10 ewes. We expect our ewes to lamb again this spring, so if you're in the market for sheep and are interested in this wonderful breed please let us know! Most of our summer 2020 lambs were sold before we even listed them, so let us know ahead of time if you think you're interested. Even if you're undecided, but have questions or just want to talk Blackbelly, please don't hesitate to reach out! We're kind of obsessed with this breed, and love sharing what we've learned as well as learning from others.
If you'd like to learn more about this unique breed of sheep, shoot us an email or check out the BBSAI website. There you can find the international registry, breeder directory, BBSAI newsletter, and many other resources that can help you learn more about American Blackbelly.
Copyright © 2019 Grateful Akers Farm & Apiary - All Rights Reserved
NPIP Certification Pending