BREAKING NEWS! We are retiring from raising sheep and will sell our farmette (5270 Singers Glen Road, Harrisonburg, VA) consisting of 5 acres, 3 BR house, sheep barn and several outbuildings at a public auction on April 20, 2024. Consequently we are planning to sell all of our Barbados Blackbelly Sheep this fall.
Knoll Acres Barbados Blackbelly Sheep is a small farm located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, about 4 miles west of Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. We raise registered Barbados Blackbelly sheep and typically have some for sale. To see our current offering check the “Sheep for Sale Page” on this website.
Information about Barbados Blackbelly Sheep can be found on the following website: Barbados Blackbelly Sheep Association International. This website contains a lot information about Barbados Blackbelly Sheep as well as a related breed, American Blackbelly Sheep.
Roman J. and Elva B. Miller are the owners and managers of Knoll Acres. We have been raising sheep for many years. We began our experience with sheep in 1992 with one orphan mixed breed lamb, Dickie, who we raised on a bottle. Dickie became a pet and bonded with our collie dog, Patsy. It was a grand sight to see Patsy running along the field somewhere with Dickie close behind. The photo below shows Dickie ready to mount the steps to be with Patsy on our deck.
In 1993 we purchased a small flock of Hampshire sheep — several ewes and a ram and raised purebred (but not registered) Hampshire sheep. The photo on the right shows one of our Hampshire sheep, Gentle Sue, with triplets who would have been less than a week old at the time of this photo.
In our experience with Hampshire sheep, we typically expected either single lambs or twins with triplets being rare. Typically these lambs were large at birth and with good nutrition reached market weight of 100-110 lbs in a short time. However with Hampshires, we struggled with birthing issues and too frequently the birthing ewes required help. Consequently we decided to switch to another breed.
In 1996, we began buying and raising Polypay sheep and replacing our Hampshire sheep. We liked the Polypay sheep. They were gentle and a bit smaller than the Hampshire sheep.
Polypay sheep were prolific breeders and frequently birthed and raised mostly twins and triplets. Singles were rare. More importantly they birthed their lambs with minimal help and typically were good milkers.
We raised Polypay sheep for about 13 years and were pleased with them except for two issues: (1) we had trouble finding persons willing to shear our small flock of 10-12 ewes and (2) our Polypay sheep were susceptible to worming issues and required frequent de-worming.
One year we had retired our Polypay breeding ram and I purchased a black/white American Blackbelly ram (a horned hair sheep) and cross bred him to our Polypay sheep. We had an interesting mix of lambs that year with some unusual looking lambs — sometimes with coats that were part wool and part hair.
During the second breeding year with this ram, one of our Polypay ewes, #24, birthed a set of quadriplets and managed to raised them all with minimal assistance from us. Interestingly enough, two of the lambs were pure white and two of them were black/white.
One of the tough times during the Polypay years was our experience with coyotes. After I found a freshly-killed young Polypay lamb laying in the field one morning, we started enclosing our sheep in the barn each evening for the balance of that spring.
Coyote kills typically can be recognized because coyotes bite the neck and sever the jugular veins causing the animal to bleed to death. (Dogs on the other hand, typically leave wound marks on the lamb buttocks.) Nothing on this lamb was eaten, she was simply killed and left in the field when I found her. Perhaps my early morning presence that day scared the coyote off.
Barbados Blackbelly sheep
In 2009, we began looking for an alternate sheep and decided to try Barbados Blackbelly sheep. In the fall of 2009, we purchased three registered Barbardos Blackbelly lambs from Mary Swindell in Illinois. These lambs became the foundation of our Barbados Blackbelly sheep. (See photo on the right) If you click on the registry # below, it will hyperlink to their page in the Book of the Registry. If you follow those hyperlinks you can explore their parentages.
- Foundation Ram: Bellwether Leonardo (DOB: March 9, 2009) Registry# BWF03091727BB Ear Tag: 0309282 Leonardo’s pedigree can be seen here: PEDIGREE
- Foundation Ewe: Bellwether Clara (DOB: March 22, 2009) Registry# BWF03091711BB Ear Tag: 0309320 Clara’s pedigree can be seen here: PEDIGREE
- Foundation Ewe: Bellwether Lily (DOB: February 1, 2009) Registry# BWF02091663BB Ear Tag: 0209280. Lily’s pedigree can be seen here: PEDIGREE
Six young ram lambs (approximately five months old)