Barbados X Mouflon Sheep


ORDER: Artiodactyla

FAMILY: Bovidae

GENUS: Ovis

SPECIES: aries

DESCRIPTION:
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.

DIET:
Grass, weeds and shrubs on range. Supplemented with grain and hay on farms.

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 13 years.

SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
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.

INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
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.

OUR ANIMALS:
Several in the Children's Zoo.

STATUS IN WILD:
Only found in domesticated state. The pure European Mouflon sheep survive in small numbers on reserves and in zoos.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Nowak, Ronald. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th Ed. Vol II.
  2. Internet: www.blackbellysheep.org; www.apolonia.net/Caprifield/barbados

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