Black Belly Sheep register on the cards


Efforts are being made to register all the Barbados Black Belly Sheep on the island.
So say Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul. He was speaking yesterday morning at the Agrofest 2017 – Livestock Workshop and the Media Launch for Competitions, at the BAS’ The Grotto headquarters, as he disclosed that they have already registered 700 animals in the programme.
“We are looking to expand that; we only started in the last quarter of last year. Our objective is to try to have on our register every single Barbados Black Belly Sheep that lives up to the characteristics of the Barbados Black Belly Sheep,” he told those gathered.
Paul said this registration process would achieve two things; it would avoid the incidence of inbreeding that is sometimes happening as a result of farmers not keeping appropriate records, and is also expected to lead to the formation of a society for registration purposes only. The latter goal, he said, would ensure that persons wanting to purchase such sheep can certify that the animal is a pure bred Barbados Black Belly Sheep.
“It is something that we needed to do for some time, the process has begun and it is going to take a lot of time to do it because we have limited resources,” he said.
Paul added that the process will also likely be a lengthy one, because farmers have to change their practices relative to how they breed their sheep. He also indicated that in fact their overall animal husbandry techniques – not only how they breed, but how they care for their sheep, must change in order to facilitate the process.
“So the BAS can’t wave a magic wand and decide we’re going to have a registration programme in the Society and it is going to work like that… It means we need cooperation from the farmers themselves in terms of changing their practices in the way they manage the animals to ensure that it really happens,” he said.
Paul is of the belief that over a period of two to three years, they will start to see an improvement in the quality of the breeding standards at all farms. 
Meanwhile, the BAS head, who has often been critical of the local campus of the University of the West Indies in respect of their work in agriculture, heaped praise on the University as he referred to a recent visit to the tertiary institution, where he had the opportunity to see leather products made from the Barbados Black Belly Sheep.
“There were handbags for the ladies, there were shoes for the ladies, there were shoes for the gents; the leather was beautiful and if you see it, you really cannot believe it came out of the Barbados Black Belly Sheep. I think we need to congratulate the University of the West Indies… and to prove to persons it can be done, we will be having a showcase of that leather at Agrofest.”  
His comments came as he lamented that too often there is no appreciation for what is available in Barbados, and the resources that are required to push such products. With that in mind, he reiterated a call for the private sector to help advance the agricultural sector and to help develop niche markets like that of the sheepskin leather.
“It is fine leather that can fetch premium prices in international markets; there are opportunities waiting here… We have a really lazy private sector in this country; let us use the money that is available on the banks in this country to help invest in helping to develop these types of products from our own, from something that is indigenous, something that is available here,” he said.
He explained that developing such products would give sheep farmers another revenue stream, such that they are not only making money from the sale of the meat. (JRT)

Barbados Advocate

Mailing Address:
Advocate Publishers (2000) Inc
Fontabelle, St. Michael, Barbados

Phone: (246) 467-2000
Fax: (246) 434-2020 / (246) 434-1000