Heritage Breeds

Release Date:  17 May 2021

Issue City: Mount Vernon, Virginia 22121



Issue: Heritage Breeds Stamps
Item Number: 480400
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Pane of 20 (10 designs)
Series: N/A
Issue Date & City: May 17, 2021, Mount Vernon VA 22121
Art Director: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville VA
Designer: Zack Bryant, Charlottesville VA
Existing Photos:: Aliza Eliazarov, Brooklyn NY
Modeler: Sandra Lane / Michelle Finn
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Flexographic
Printer: Banknote Corporation of America
Press Type: Gallus RCS
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 25,000,000 stamps
Paper Type: Phosphor, Block Tag
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Red PMS 7621, Black PMS 7C
Stamp Orientation: Vertical
Image Area (w x h): 1.085 x 1.42 in./ 27.559 x 36.068 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 1.225 x 1.56 in./31.115 x 39.624 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.12 x 8.375 in./180.848 x 212.725 mm
Plate Size: 80 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: “B” followed by six (6) single digits in bottom two corners
Marginal Markings:
Front: Header: Heritage Breeds • Plate number in bottom two corners
Back: ©2020 USPS • USPS logo • 2 barcodes (480400) • Plate position diagram (4) • Promotional text

Design #1: Mulefoot Hog 












Design #2: Wyandotte Chicken 













Design #3: Milking Devon Cow













Design #4: Narragansett Turkey














Design #5: American Mammoth Jackstock















Design #6: Cotton Patch Goose
















Design #7: San Clemente Island Goat

















Design #8: American Cream Draft Horse


















Design #9: Cayuga Duck



















Design #10: Barbados Blackbelly Sheep




















Sheet of 20 Stamps





















Deck Card for Package of 100 Sheets of 20 Stamps Each






















First Day Cancellation – Black Pictorial Postmark























First Day Cancellation – Digital Color Postmark

























These stamps pay tribute to heritage breeds, preindustrial farm animals that are enjoying renewed attention for their versatility, adaptability and unique genetic traits. This pane of 20 stamps includes photographs of 10 heritage breeds: the American Mammoth Jackstock donkey, the Narragansett turkey, the Cayuga duck, the San Clemente Island goat, the Mulefoot hog, the Cotton Patch goose, the American Cream draft horse, the Barbados Blackbelly sheep, the Milking Devon cow and the Wyandotte chicken. Zack Bryant designed the stamps with photographs by Aliza Eliazarov. Greg Breeding served as art director.

On May 17, 2021, in Mount Vernon, VA, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Heritage Breeds stamps (Forever® priced at the First-Class Mail® rate) in 10 designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps (Item 480400). These stamps will go on sale nationwide May 17, 2021, and must not be sold or canceled before the first-day-of-issue. The Heritage Breeds commemorative pane of 20 stamps may not be split and the stamps may not be sold individually.

These stamps pay tribute to heritage breeds, pre-industrial farm animals that are enjoying renewed attention for their versatility, adaptability, and unique genetic traits. This pane of 20 stamps includes photographs of 10 heritage breeds:

American Mammoth Jackstock donkey,
Narragansett turkey,
Cayuga duck,
San Clemente Island goat,
Mulefoot hog,
Cotton Patch goose,
American Cream draft horse,
Barbados Blackbelly sheep,
Milking Devon cow, and
Wyandotte chicken.

Zack Bryant designed the stamps with photographs by Aliza Eliazarov. Greg Breeding served as art director.

No automatic distribution.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office™ or at The Postal Store® website at usps.com/shop. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

FDOI – Heritage Breeds Stamps
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service™ will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by September 17, 2021.

First Day of Issue Ceremonies will be held at Piscataway Park, located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of downtown Washington, D.C., in and around Accokeek, Maryland, which protects Marshall Hall, the National Colonial Farm, and the Accokeek Creek Site. The park is located across the Potomac River from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

Piscataway Park is named after Piscataway Creek, itself named for a Native American tribe. The park is home to bald eagles, beavers, osprey, and other wildlife[2] and encompasses areas of wetland, meadow and woodland. It is administered by the National Park Service and is managed by National Capital Parks-East.

Henry and Alice Ferguson bought more than 100 acres (0.40 km²) of land in the area in 1928. It includes the area of Moyaone, a Native American Piscataway village last occupied in 1623. The Fergusons bought more property and encouraged friends to settle nearby, where they could protect the environment. After Alice’s death in 1951, Ferguson created the Alice Ferguson Foundation, which administered the land. The foundation made arrangements to donate property to the National Park Service for parkland, a transaction completed in the 1960s. This both protected the environment, as well as the historic viewshed as seen from the Mount Vernon mansion, keeping the parkland as it was in George Washington’s day, and preventing modern development along the shore of the river.

Mulefoot Hog

Mulefoot are a breed of domestic pig which is named for its intact, uncloven hooves reminiscent of a mule. These pigs are typically black, on rare occasions having white markings. They have long snouts that slowly converge downward, have erect, floppy ears, and short, shiny hair. Their face is similar to that of a wild boar’s. They typically reach a weight of 400 to 600 pounds (180 to 270 kg), with males averaging 550 pounds (250 kg) and females 450 pounds (200 kg). The sows are known as good mothers, having litters that average 5 to 6 piglets.

The Mulefoot likely originated with swine brought to the Gulf Coast by the Spanish; however, exactly when they originated as a syndactyl animal is not clear. While pigs with single hooves are found in writings as far back as Aristotle, the Mulefoot is the only population to be considered a breed, having an established standard type. The breed is possibly closely related to the Choctaw hog, and may share a similar ancestry. The Spanish-descended ungulates were minimally managed, with some selective breeding, which continued into the late 1800s. Breed standards for the Mulefoot arose around 1900. The breed was seen mainly in the Corn Belt and Mississippi River Valley. The early 20th century saw the breed at the peak of its popularity, with over 200 purebred herds and two breed associations. At the same time, some Mulefoots were exported to Canada, but the population was not maintained.

In the mid-20th century, the population began to decline, and by 1964, one breeder, R.M. Holiday of Louisiana, Missouri, established what would become the last herd of purebred Mulefoot hogs. He acquired swine from all known purebred breeders, and used selective breeding to maintain the breed standard. By 1976, the registries for the breed closed, and the herd books, pedigrees and other registration information were lost. In 1993, Mark Fields and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (later The Livestock Conservancy) began working with Holiday to re-establish the breed registry and expand breeding programs to additional farms.

As of 2013, The Livestock Conservancy considers the Mulefoot to be critically endangered, a categorization given to breeds with a population of fewer than 2,000 and yearly registrations of fewer than 200. As of 2006, there were estimated to be fewer than 200 purebred Mulefoot hogs in existence.

Maveric Ranch took over conservatorship of the Mulefoot Breed in 2006. To date, they have placed breeding groups on over 40 farms across the USA.

Wyandotte Chicken

The Wyandotte is an American breed of chicken developed in the 1870s. It was named for the indigenous Wyandot people of North America. The Wyandotte is a dual-purpose breed, kept for its brown eggs and its yellow-skinned meat. It is a popular show bird, and has many color variants. It was originally known as the American Sebright.

The Wyandotte was created in the United States in the 1870s by four people, H. M. Doubleday, John Ray, L. Whittaker and Fred Houdlette. The first type was the silver-laced, which was included in the American Standard of Perfection in 1883; it was taken to Britain at about the same time. The origin of the breed is still somewhat a mystery, however silver spangled Hamburgs and dark Brahmas are considered to be important breeds in the initial crosses to developing the Wyandotte. The Hamburg was used for the rose comb and the Brahma for the color pattern. Prior to the breed’s acceptance into the Standard of Perfection, the breed was referred to as the “Sebright Cochin” and “American Sebright”. The gold-laced Wyandotte was produced by breeding silver-laced hens with gold-spangled Hamburg and partridge Cochin cocks, the white Wyandotte was a sport of the silver-laced, and the buff variant came from crossing the silver-laced with buff Cochin stock; the black variant was also a sport, of both the silver-laced and the gold-laced. The partridge Wyandotte came from crossing the gold-laced with Indian Game, partridge Cochin, gold-pencilled Hamburghs, and a strain called “Winnebago”. The Columbian was the result of a chance crossing of white Wyandottes with barred Plymouth Rock birds; it was named for Columbian Exposition and World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893. The first Wyandotte bantams were added to the Standard of Perfection in 1933.

In 2015 the Wyandotte was listed as “recovering” by the American Livestock Conservancy; in 2016 it was no longer considered to be in danger and was removed from the priority list. In Germany it is listed in category IV, “alert”, on the Rote Liste of the Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen.

The Wyandotte is a fairly large bird, but compact and rounded. The weight range is variable but typically 5 ½ to 8½ pounds for pullets to cock birds respectively. The breast is deep, full and well rounded. The body of a Wyandotte is described as medium length but very wide, carrying that width across the back and into the tail. It is clean-legged and fairly close-feathered, and has a broad skull with a rose comb. The skin and shanks are yellow, and the ear-lobes, face and wattles are red.

In the United States, nine colors are recognized in the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association: black (1893), blue (1977), buff (1893), Columbian (1905), golden laced (1888), partridge (1893), silver laced (1883) and silver pencilled (1902). For bantams, the same nine colors are recognized, with the addition of buff Columbian.

In Canada, former Ontario Minister of Agriculture (1923-1930) John S. Martin, famously bred and sold White Wyandotte chickens from his farm in Port Dover, Ontario. His chickens routinely won awards and were highly prized all over Canada and the United States.

In Europe, the Entente Européenne lists thirty colors. The Poultry Club of Great Britain recognizes barred, black, blue, blue-laced, blue partridge, buff, buff-laced, Columbian, gold-laced, partridge, red, silver-laced, silver-pencilled and white.

Milking Devon Cow

The American Milking Devon is a breed of cattle from the United States. Originally derived from British North Devon cattle brought to North America in the 17th century, the two strains have since diverged significantly. Modern North Devons have been bred to be used almost exclusively for beef production, while American Milking Devons are a multi-purpose animal akin to the stock which first took the transatlantic journey. Despite their name, they are also suited to meat production and to work as draft animals (i.e. oxen). Considered to be one of the oldest and purest breeds of American cattle in existence, American Milking Devons are also exceedingly rare.

In 1623, a small shipment of North Devon cattle from north Devonshire arrived in the Plymouth Colony. Though cattle had been imported to the continent by the Spanish much earlier (descendants of which are the Texas Longhorn, Pineywoods and Florida Cracker breeds), this was the first arrival of British stock to the Americas. The Milking Devon spread along the east coast as far south as Florida, and its multi-purpose ability to provide labor, meat, and milk was valued by farmers. But beginning in the 19th century, the Shorthorn breed began to be preferred by farmers for dual-purpose cattle, and by 1900 the Milking Devon was rarely found outside New England. By the middle of the 20th century, numbers had dwindled even more significantly, and the market for triple purpose cattle had virtually disappeared. The breed reached its low point in the 1970s, with fewer than 100 head.

Today, Milking Devons are still one of the most endangered breeds of cattle in the world. But with the aid of organizations such as the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, numbers have begun to rebound slightly. At any given time, 600 living animals are registered as purebred with the breed society. A herd of Milking Devons are currently being preserved by the Accokeek Foundation’s Heritage Breed Livestock Conservation Program within the National Colonial Farm at Piscataway Park to increase public awareness of this threatened cattle breed.

The American Milking Devon is one of only a few truly triple purpose cattle breeds left in the West, being valued for meat, milk and draft. They are medium-sized cattle: cows average 1,100 pounds (499 kilos) and bulls 1,600 pounds (726 kilos). The coat is a dark, glossy red color, and the horns are white, ideally with black tips. They are active, intelligent, and relatively strong for their size, making them valued for use as oxen. However, as some of the most active draft breeds, they are not well-suited to beginning drovers.

Milking Devons are also physically hardy, and able to survive well on forage. Though Milking Devons are not heavily selected for dairy production in the 21st century, the butterfat content of their milk is comparable to that of the Jersey (though the volume of milk produced is not).

Narragansett Turkey

The Narragansett turkey is a breed of Meleagris gallopavo which descends from a cross between the eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) and the domestic turkey. According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, the Narragansett turkey is a “historic variety, unique to North America” and is named for Narragansett Bay.

The Narragansett has plumage with black, gray, tan, and white feathers. It resembles the Bronze turkey but has feathers of gray or dull black replacing the Bronze’s distinctive coppery coloring. The Narragansett sometimes has bars of white feathers on its wings due to a genetic mutation not found outside the United States. It has a black beard, a horn-colored beak, and a mostly featherless head and neck which range in color from red to blueish white.

The breed is prized for its excellent temperament combining a calm disposition with good maternal abilities. They mature early, are good egg producers, have excellent quality meat, and “when kept at liberty, [it] doesn’t wander too far from home”. Improved over generations through selective breeding, young Narragansett turkey toms weigh 22–28 pounds and hens weigh 12–16 pounds. They can run quickly, fly well, and prefer to spend their nights roosting in trees.

While never as popular as the Bronze turkey, this breed was still valued for commercial agriculture across the United States. According to an account from the early 1870s, flocks of up to two hundred birds were common. Narragansett turkeys were successful at foraging for crickets, grasshoppers and other insects, and could be maintained with little supplemental feed.

Narragansett turkey became the foundation of the turkey industry in New England and was especially important in Rhode Island and Connecticut. It was also popular in the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest. This breed was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874.

In the early 20th century, the popularity of the Bronze turkey grew even more and the Narragansett turkey soon became a rarity. It was not commercially cultivated for many decades until the early 21st century when a growing niche market was established for consumers with a “renewed interest in the biological fitness, survivability, and superior flavor” of the Narragansett.

A fancy variety known as the Silver Narragansett was developed with white plumage replacing the tan and gray. Never accepted by the American Poultry Association and very rare, Silver Narragansett mutations still occasionally appear in flocks of more typically colored birds.

American Mammoth Jackstock

The American Mammoth Jackstock is a breed of North American donkey, descended from large donkeys imported to the United States from about 1785. George Washington, with Henry Clay and others, bred for an ass that could be used to produce strong work mules. Washington was offering his jacks for stud service by 1788. Large breeds of asses were found in Kentucky by 1800. Breeds that influenced the Mammoth Jack include the Maltese, the Baudet du Poitou, the Andalusian, the Majorcan and the Catalan.

Measured from the ground to the withers, Jacks (entire males) must stand at least 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm), and jennies or jennets (females) at least 13.2 hands (54 inches, 137 cm) in order to be classified as mammoth size. The American Mammoth Jackstock Registry has more stringent requirements: minimum 14 hands and 7.5” cannon bone circumference for jennets and geldings; minimum 14.2 hands and 8” cannon bone circumference for jacks; 61” heart girth in all cases.

The largest living mammoth donkey, at 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm), resides in Adrian, Michigan.

Cotton Patch Goose

The Cotton Patch is a breed of domestic goose originating in the Southern United States. It is so named because it traditionally was used to weed fields of cotton, corn, and other crops.

Up until the 1950s, Cotton Patch geese were customarily kept on rural Southern homesteads and farms as multi-purpose poultry used for weeding, meat, eggs, down, and grease. Their grazing kept fields clear of crabgrass and other weeds, while leaving crops unharmed and reducing the amount of manual labor necessary. After the mid-20th century, herbicides almost entirely replaced weeding on American farms, and the Cotton Patch goose declined in concert. Considered critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, the Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities, and the American Poultry Association, it has largely disappeared from the Southern farms where it was once common. It is also included in Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, a catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction.

The Cotton Patch goose is particularly well-adapted to the climate of the southeastern U.S., being more heat tolerant. They are also slimmer in body than most domestic geese, and retain a relatively good flying ability into adulthood. They much more closely resemble the wild forebears of domestic geese, the greylag goose. They are similar in color to the Pilgrim Goose and Shetland Goose, and are also sexually dimorphic. In general, ganders are white with some dove gray feathers on the back and tail. Females are either entirely gray, or pied gray and white, also called saddleback. The bills and feet are pink rather than orange, as is seen in the Pilgrim, which it resembles. They range in weight from 8-10 pounds for geese and 9-12 pounds for ganders.

San Clemente Island Goat

The San Clemente Island goat is a type of domestic goat derived from feral goats isolated on San Clemente Island, one of the Channel Islands of California.

The long-isolated feral goats of the Channel Islands, including the San Clemente Island goat and the Santa Catalina Island goat, are thought to be descendants of goats brought to the islands by Spanish missionaries and settlers; breeds such as the La Blanca Celtiboras, the La Castellana Extremenas, and later the more common dairy and meat goats of Spain, the Malaguenas and Murcianas. They first arrived on San Clemente from Santa Catalina Island, in 1875, and there they remained feral until the United States Navy, which was under a directive to preserve the endangered flora and fauna of the island that were threatened by the grazing of nonendemic species, sought their removal. After initial trapping and hunting failed to eliminate the goats, the Navy began a shooting program to exterminate them. This was blocked in court by the Fund for Animals, who asserted the goats did not hurt any endangered species, and thought the Navy was using this claim as an excuse. This was incorrect, as the threatened and endangered species of plants were already federally listed and protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Goats were put up for adoption on the mainland by the Clapp family and by the Fund for Animals. The U.S. Navy was given the right to exterminate the remaining goats, and the last goat on San Clemente Island was killed in April, 1991.

San Clemente Island goats are small, fine-boned, and deer-like. The males sport outwardly-twisting, “Spanish-type” horns. Both sexes are horned and although their large horns resemble those of Spanish goats, San Clemente goats are not of Spanish origin. The Livestock Conservancy (formerly ALBC) with the University of Cordoba in Spain conducted a DNA study of the breed in 2007 and found that the San Clemente goat is a genetically distinct breed and unrelated to the numerous other breeds in the study. San Clemente Island goats are listed as a critically endangered heritage breed on the Conservation Priority List by The Livestock Conservancy. In 2020, their global population was about 1400. They live on the mainland U.S.A. and in Canada.

American Cream Draft Horse

The American Cream Draft is the only draft horse breed developed in the United States that is still in existence. A rare horse breed today, it is recognized by its cream color, known as “gold champagne”, produced by the action of the champagne gene upon a chestnut base color, and by its amber eyes, also characteristic of the gene; the only other color found in the breed is chestnut. Like several other breeds of draft horses, the American Cream is at risk for the autosomal recessive genetic disease junctional epidermolysis bullosa.

The breed was developed in Iowa during the early 20th century, beginning with a cream-colored mare named Old Granny. The Great Depression threatened the breed’s existence, but several breeders worked to improve the color and type of the breed, and in 1944 a breed registry was formed. The mechanization of farming in the mid-20th century led to a decrease in the breed’s population and the registry became inactive for several decades. It was reactivated in 1982 and population numbers have slowly grown since then. However, population numbers are still considered critical by The Livestock Conservancy and the Equus Survival Trust.

American Creams have refined heads, with flat facial profiles that are neither concave nor convex. They have wide chests, sloping shoulders and short, strong backs. Their ribs are well sprung, and they are short-coupled with well-muscled hindquarters and with strong well-proportioned legs set well apart. They are sure-footed with strong hooves, and their movement is free and easy. According to enthusiasts, the breed has a calm, willing temperament, particularly suited for owners who are new to handling draft horses. Mares stand 15–16 hands (60–64 inches, 152–163 cm) high and weigh 1,500–1,600 pounds (680–730 kg), while stallions and geldings stand 16–16.3 hands (64–67 inches, 163–170 cm) and weigh 1,800 pounds (820 kg) or more.

The ideal coat color for the breed is a medium cream with pink skin, amber eyes and a white mane and tail. The characteristic cream color of the breed is produced by the champagne gene. Recognized colors include light, medium and dark cream, with amber or hazel eyes. A cream mare with dark skin and a light mane and tail may be accepted by the registry as foundation stock, while stallions must have pink skin and white manes and tails to be registered. Purebred American Cream foals that are too dark to be accepted into the main breed registry may be recorded into an appendix registry. The appendix will also accept half-bred Cream Draft horses crossed with other draft bloodlines if they meet certain requirements, and the registry provides an upgrade system that uses appendix horses to strengthen genes, increase breed numbers, and allow more diversified bloodlines.

The American Creams that live in Colonial Williamsburg have been called “the most famous of all American Cream Draft horses”. In the village they are used for wagon and carriage rides, and as of 2006 there is a breeding program run by Colonial Williamsburg that is working to increase breed numbers.

Cayuga Duck

The Cayuga is an American breed of domestic duck. It was introduced to the Finger Lakes region of New York State in about 1840, and is named for the Cayuga people of that area. Until the last years of the nineteenth century it was the principal duck reared for meat in the United States. In the twenty-first century it is kept mainly for ornament,

The origins of the Cayuga are obscure. A much-repeated theory that it descends not from the Mallard like almost all domestic ducks, but from Anas rubripes, the American Black Duck, remains unsubstantiated and unverified by any scientific evidence. Unlike Anas rubripes, the Cayuga is a true black in color; this color is the result of a genetic mutation fairly common in breeds derived from Anas platyrhynchos. The Cayuga has other characteristics compatible with derivation from the Mallard; in particular, it shows the typical curled “drake feather” in the tail, while Anas rubripes does not.

In about 1840, one John S. Clark obtained some ducks of this type in Orange County, New York, and took them to Cayuga County in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The breed is named for the indigenous Cayuga people of the area.

The Cayuga was included in the first edition of the American Standard of Perfection in 1874. It was first exported to the United Kingdom in 1851; the first British standard was published in 1901. In the second half of the nineteenth century it became the principal duck breed reared for meat in the United States. From about 1890 it began to be displaced by the American Pekin, which did not have the black pinfeathers of the Cayuga and so was easier to pluck and clean for sale.

Its conservation status world-wide was listed by the FAO in 2007 as “not at risk”. In 2008 its status in the United States was listed as “threatened” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (now The Livestock Conservancy); in 2020 it was listed as “watch”.

The Cayuga is a medium to heavy duck; standard weights are 3.6 kg (8 lb) for adult drakes 3.2 kg (7 lb) for ducks. The plumage is black with iridescent beetle-green lights; particularly in ducks, some feathers may fade or whiten as the bird ages, which can be a disqualifying fault for showing. The bill, legs and feet are black or as nearly so as possible; the eyes are dark brown.

The Cayuga is a meat-type duck. In the twenty-first century it may be reared for meat and eggs, but is most often kept for ornament or for showing. Ducks may lay some 100–150 large eggs per year; at the beginning of the laying season the eggs are dark and may be almost black; they gradually lighten to the usual pale greenish blue or almost to white by the end of the season. If they are to be hatched, the incubation time for the eggs is 28 days.

The feathers may be used in the tying of fishing flies.

Barbados Black Belly Sheep

The Barbados Black Belly is a breed of domestic sheep from the Caribbean island of Barbados. Although it is likely the Barbados Blackbelly has African ancestry, there seems to be clear evidence that the breed, as seen today, was developed by the people on the island from sheep brought by ships fairly early in the period after Europeans first arrived. This breed is raised primarily for meat. It is widely distributed, with populations in twenty-five countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. It is most abundant in the Caribbean region, in Mexico and in Peru. In 2015 the total world population was estimated at about 158,000. In 2014, the US reported 1,971 registered sheep. 

In 1904, the USDA imported a small flock and transported them for study to Bethesda, Maryland. From that original flock, at least two distinct breeds have emerged in the US, and there is a great deal of confusion in the breed names. In 2004, there were fewer than 200 purebred Barbados Blackbelly sheep in the US, in contrast to a large and growing population of a popular crossbreed, commonly referred to as “Barbado.” Whereas purebred Barbados Blackbelly rams and ewes are polled (hornless), the Barbado is most noted for the regal rack of horns on the rams, and some ewes may also have small horns. The horns were gained by crossbreeding Barbados Blackbelly with Mouflon and Rambouillet early after they were imported by the USDA. The rams with large horn curl are commercially bred for use on private hunting ranches where size of horn curl is prized by exotic game hunters.

Recognizing that the term “Barbado” did not adequately define the characteristics that breeders sought in the horned animal, the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association International (BBSAI) adopted a breed standard in 2004 and defined animals meeting this standard as “American Blackbelly.” As a result, breeders of both breeds of sheep were better able to obtain genetics of their breed of choice with some certainty that the animals would breed to type. In 2014, there were more than 1,900 registered Barbados Blackbelly sheep in the US, and although the breed is not out of danger, it is far more stable than it has ever been in the US

Blackbelly sheep of both breeds are able to tolerate heat and exhibit more stamina than most breeds of sheep. They are fleet of foot and in many ways resembles deer. They are “hair sheep,” which means they don’t grow wool, but instead they have coarse hair. If raised in cooler climates, they often develop a wool undercoat that they shed in the spring.

Barbados Blackbelly sheep will breed all year round unlike most domestic sheep. Because they are smaller and slower growing than most woolen sheep, they are not a good choice for commercial production. However, there is a strong market for their lean and mild-flavored meat, and they are popular with herding dog trainers. They are very disease resistant and parasite tolerant, and these genetic traits have created a demand for Blackbelly sheep in crossbreeding operations. These sheep can be raised with very little grain, and do not require intensive management. Blackbelly sheep range in colour from light tan to a dark mahogany red, with black stripes on the face and black legs, belly, inguinal region, chin, and chest, which gives this herbivore its name. Despite being goat-like in appearance, they are true sheep.

In the 20th century, many Barbados sheep were brought from Barbados to the UK and mainland Europe, where it gained popularity. Due to the lack of mutual knowledge among hobbyists and sheep farmers, sometimes Barbados sheep are confused with Djallonké (Cameroon sheep). As a result, there are many crosses of these two breeds in Europe. Some breeders mistakenly offer crossed and pure Barbados sheep as being Djallonké (Cameroon sheep or West African dwarf sheep).

Recently, there is successful attempt to crossbreed Barbados Black belly with Indonesian short tail local sheep, Suffolk sheep, and St. Croix sheep by Tista Waringin Sitompul, a teacher from University of North Sumatra, to create a new breed which called ‘Waringin sheep’. Waringin sheep reportedly has shown desirable positive characteristics including it could reach weight about 150-200 kg consistently, prolificacy, and its worm based disease resistance.





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