On Seven Bells Fold , we raise American Blackbelly Sheep.
What We Raise & Why:
We chose this breed because of their hardy nature and small carbon hoof-print. They are a thrifty, energetic semi-wild sheep that has their origins from the Barbados and the Mouflon sheep. They range in colour from cream and light tan to dark red with distinctive striking black markings. The males develop spectacular curving horns while the ewes are generally polled or hornless. Their personality is generally reserved and a bit flighty and when startled, will easily clear a four foot fence. With patience though, they can be somewhat tamed and can become accustomed to close contact with humans. We move calmly and speak quietly around our sheep and they seem to enjoy our company. Some of our bottle fed lambs have grown up to be very affectionate and allow us to pat them which speaks volumes about the level of trust between us.
Blackbelly sheep are one of the best at eradicating noxious weeds and scrub brush. They are very good mothers, usually having twin lambs and sometimes even triplets. They are naturally resistant to disease and parasites and make very good use of marginal pasture. They allow us to reclaim and revive pastures in a natural manner, bringing the land back to a healthy balance. They dispense one of the best organic fertilizers and the ewes remain fertile all year round, allowing for a flexible lambing schedule. They reach puberty early in life but mature slower than the commercial sheep breeds and take longer to reach market weight. That fact makes them not as popular a choice for people wanting to rear a fast growing, higher maintenance breed of sheep but for small farms or homesteads wanting to embrace an organic, natural lifestyle,they are perfect. They provide a very lean meat with low cholesterol and a mild flavour. They are rapidly becoming much in demand by those who have had the opportunity to sample the meat and are starting to be promoted by top chefs as the meat of choice for flavour, texture and health benefits.