Our ewes and their lambs.
Mike and I believe if the Barbados Blackbelly is a polled (naturally hornless) breed, it should not be that hard to find truly polled rams for breeding. We found it to be rather difficult when we started years ago and still to this day, find that breeders are selling rams with scurs (horn material) as polled rams. In our estimation, there should be no scurs on a polled ram. There had been a lot of cross breeding years ago between the now called American Blackbelly (horned sheep) and the Barbados Blackbelly (hornless sheep). Both breeds used to be called Barbados Blackbelly.
While Mike was on the Board of Directors of the BBSAI, it was decided to separate the two breeds, though they are both still registered in their separate categories by the BBSAI. If a Barbados Blackbelly ram has a completely clean head devoid of scurs, there should be no doubt about his heritage. We at Lone Star Farm have made it our goal to sell only completely polled rams for breeding. We cull those that have any horn material at all, whether it be scurs, hornbuds, or whatever. We believe it is the only way to consistently produce totally polled sheep. When we started breeding this way, we were producing two out of every twenty rams totally polled. Since we have been consistently breeding for clean heads, our average has grown to eighteen out of twenty being totally polled. Our odds have improved considerably. This is a pet peave of ours, along with white markings that have been cropping up in our breed. We are so adament about eliminating these traits in our sheep, that we GUARANTEE that our rams will be scur free with no white markings. See our "Ram Policy" for details.
We line breed, inbreed and out cross when necessary to capture the traits we are trying to promote in our stock.
Mike traveled far and wide throughout the United States gathering stock to begin breeding. It has not been an easy road, and we are not naive enough to think that we have the only game in town when it comes to breeding Barbados Blackbellies. However, since day one, we have been selectively breeding and culling and we know what we have in the way of quality and breed characteristics in our sheep. We cultivate and guard these traits when we pick mates for them. We are also careful not to double up on flaws when breeding, and we definitely don't stick our heads in the sand and pretend that their flaws don't exist. In other words, we know what our sheep are made of and we breed accordingly striving for perfection.
Once the desired results begin to come together in our sheep, we are firm believers in linebreeding at that point. If we don't linebreed then, we will never produce the consistency in quality that we want. In simpler terms, we could get a sheep of a different color each time we outcross. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for linebreeding and outcrossing within the breed in a breeding program.
Remember the "horse of a different color" in the movie Wizard Of Oz? If we want to consistently produce good quality purple horses, we cannot do it by breeding a poor quality green horse to a mediocre yellow one. Rather, we continue to line breed our good quality purple horses together until we have consistently set their traits without losing anything else in the process. In the same manner, when we begin producing the desired traits in our sheep, we inbreed to set those traits, so that we don't lose them by out crossing to a line that doesn't have that particular trait. When we are ready to focus on introducing a trait that needs to be strengthened in our stock, it is at that point we out cross to another animal within the Barbados Blackbelly breed that is strong in that trait, which preserves the integrity of our pedigrees and safeguards the genetics of the breed itself. It is difficult to set (lock in) a specific inherited trait, while maintaining other breed characteristics and superior quality. We know this, therefore we are extremely selective in our criteria for breeding. Our goal is to set those specific traits, one at a time, and yet keep the other qualities balanced as well as preserving separate genetic families within our flock. We have enough genetic diversity to meet all your needs when it comes to purchasing a starter flock.
Show Off and twins, Lone Star Boris Badenough and Lone Star Robin.
Twins, Lone Star Robin and Lone Star Boris Badenough.
Lone Star Farm | Barbados Blackbelly Sheep