Barbados Blackbelly ram

Consortium of
Barbados Blackbelly
Sheep Breeders

 

Purpose

The Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Consortium is a group of dedicated breeders committed to the conservation and protection of the polled Barbados Blackbelly sheep breed, as originally found on the Island of Barbados and as described in the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association International (BBSAI) breed standards.

Barbados Blackbelly sheep were first brought to the United States from Barbados in 1904. However, during the past 100 years, the numbers of the original polled Barbados Blackbelly breed have decreased rather than increased. The genetics and phenotypical attributes of the breed have been mostly lost, mainly due to extensive crossbreeding with horned breeds and other wooly and hair-type breeds. This crossbreeding has become the norm, both in the United States as well as in central America, other surrounding countries, and sadly, even in their native country of Barbados.

In late 2004, an updated American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) census of rare and endangered breeds revealed that there were fewer than 110 registered polled Barbados Blackbelly sheep in the United States (approximately 60 registered ewes and 40 registered rams). The actual number of living mature polled registered rams was calculated to be fewer than 12. This alarming information prompted a small group of polled BB breeders to take serious measures to protect the living genetic pool of Barbados Blackbelly sheep and to attempt to restore and increase the numbers of these lovely sheep to a level where they will be less endangered. As a result of our efforts to increase our flock sizes and to create starter flocks for new breeders, in 2013, the ALBC and the BBSAI reported that there were over 1400 registered sheep. Although encouraged, the Consortium is aware that this is an inflated number that doesn't accurately represent the actual number of living mature BB sheep. Because the registry has no provision to track the death of registered sheep, that number is more realistically reset to 700 when you remove the sheep that have died.

That means that we must remain in "conservation" mode for quite awhile longer. We invite all serious and dedicated breeders to share in this challenging and noble quest to recover the breed from near extinction.

Requirements for Membership

It is not necessary for a breeder to have longstanding experience with raising sheep in order to be in the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Consortium. Rather, it is important that breeders have a certain dedication and love for the breed and a sincere desire to preserve these sheep, which should take precedence over any desire to make a profit on the breed.

There are many fine and dedicated hair sheep production breeders who have much to contribute to the hair sheep industry, and they are to be commended for their efforts. But the Consortium's immediate goal is not to develop a successful commercial sheep breed. Instead, the Consortium's goal is to pull an endangered breed from the edge of extinction. We want to use all knowledge and tools available to take advantage of the limited amount of genetic material available and to restore an acceptable genetic base for this breed through conservation breeding techniques.

Breeders in the Consortium will be able to consult and work together to determine optimal breeding plans to best diversify and broaden genetics within individual flocks and for the breed as a whole. The Consortium intends to help each individual breeder maximize the quality of his or her flock while benefiting the breed. The Consortium does not intend to tie anyone's hands or prevent anyone from finding a market for his or her stock. The Consortium asks only that members give the Consortium first choice when selling registerable Barbados Blackbelly stock and work collaboratively to evaluate the best use of the available genetics.

Members of the Barbados Blackbelly Consortium should be willing to

  1. Notify Consortium members when breeding stock (not slaughter stock) are available for sale, giving them first right of refusal before offering the sheep for sale to the public. See the procedure described below.
  2. Keep careful breeding records and make these flock records available to other Consortium members so that genetic lines may be identified.
  3. Maintain an active membership in the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association International (BBSAI) or other accepted registry for the breed before obtaining Barbados Blackbelly sheep
  4. Register all purebred breeding stock.
  5. Practice good animal husbandry and good stock management techniques to maximize good health of the flock.
  6. Strive to breed stock carefully to preserve the highest qualities of the breed, avoid crossbreeding with other breeds, and avoid undocumented breeding within the breed.
  7. Work with other Consortium members to facilitate cooperative exchange of high-quality polled breeding stock, via e-mail and other communications, as needed. This may include discussion of distribution of certain available breeding stock among various Consortium members and may often be on a short turnaround basis.
  8. Maintain an interest in learning about breeding techniques and principles of genetics so as to maintain genetic diversity and genetic strength in this rare breed. The Consortium tries to help by providing teleconferences hosted by experts in sheep husbandry, breed conservation, and genetics.
  9. Participate in future Consortium projects for the benefit of the breed. These projects might include genotyping, artificial insemination, etc. Grant funding may be available to participants for some projects; funding for other projects may need to be covered by individual participating breeders.

Procedures for Buying/Selling Livestock

The Barbados Blackbelly Consortium uses the following procedures for lamb/sheep sales:

  1. The breeder with lambs/sheep for sale emails all Consortium members via the community Yahoo group announcing the sheep that are for sale. The breeder identifies the sheep for sale, names the price, and asks anyone interested to respond publicly via the Yahoo group by a specific date.
  2. Most Consortium members respond to say they either are or are not interested in the breeder's sheep.
  3. The breeder reviews the needs of each potential Consortium buyer, including buyer's flock genetics and how purchase of these sheep can best benefit the breed as a whole. Only secondarily will the needs of individual buyers be considered.
  4. After information gathering, the breeder makes a careful preliminary decision based on determining who has the greatest genetic need for this new stock.
  5. The breeder announces the preliminary decision to Consortium members in a second e-mail and invites anyone with questions, comments, or objections to respond.
  6. After receiving responses, and if all members are comfortable with the breeder's decision, Breeder emails the Consortium to announce the final sales decision.
  7. Breeder will now communicate privately with buyer(s) regarding payment and pickup (or shipping) arrangements.
  8. If and when there is no further interest from Consortium members in buying Breeder's sheep, then Breeder is welcome to sell these lambs outside the Consortium using the following priorities: first to any buyers interested in acquiring a starter flock with the intention of participating in the Consortium and working to preserve the breed; second to buyers specifically wanting polled Barbados Blackbelly sheep; and third to anyone else.

In summary, Consortium members must be willing to first offer their sheep for sale at a reasonable price to other Consortium members who may have a great need for them to genetically strengthen and diversify their flocks. If no Consortium member is interested in purchasing the sheep, then the breeder may sell to anyone outside the Consortium.

All lamb sale discussions, as well as any disagreements or problems that might arise, should be addressed to the entire Consortium via group e-mail so that no one is left out of the discussion. The viability and success of the Consortium depends upon the good will of its members; therefore open discussion and an atmosphere of trust and cooperation are essential.

If you are interested in joining the Barbados Blackbelly Consortium, please complete the Consortium Membership Application Statement below. Someone from the Consortium will contact you to schedule a phone conference to discuss Barbados Blackbelly sheep, explore your breeding goals, and discuss in greater detail the Consortium and its purpose.

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I have read the information about the Barbados Blackbelly Consortium's purpose, requirements for membership, and procedures for buying and selling livestock. I would like to participate in this group and am willing to abide by the guidelines and procedures set forth above. I understand that I will be asked to leave the group if I attempt to work outside of these parameters. The success of the Consortium depends on its members being honest with each other, working toward a common goal, and playing by the same rules.


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