What is a Blackbles sheep? (Black and white sheep)

The Zwartbles (English: Black-Black Sheep) originates from the Netherlands and can nowadays also be found in other countries such as England and Belgium. The sheep owes its name to its black sheepskin coat and the blaze on its head. The blaze is the white stripe that runs over the entire head of the animal. The blaze is unique to each sheep. The sheep are kept in the North of the Netherlands mainly in Friesland and Drenthe. Often these animals were kept in combination with dairy cows. When the lamb is young, the sheepskin is black. When the sheep gets older, the sheepskin will be brown.

What are characteristics of Black and White sheep?

Black and white sheep are fairly large and well-muscled. The sheep stands high on its legs and is unhorned. Typical for this sheep are the white socks, (2 to 4 white legs) a white tail and the white blaze on their heads. The wool of the sheep is coarse but nice and soft.

A Zwartbles ram can weigh about 120 to 150 kilograms and a ewe weighs 80 to 100 kilograms. The sheep lambs easily and needs little or no help from a veterinarian. In addition, this breed is particularly fertile in contrast to other sheep breeds.

The history of the Blackbless sheep

Exactly how the Zwartbles breed originated is not entirely known. According to some, the Zwartbles sheep originated from a cross between various sheep such as the Schoonebeekers, Texelaars and various local milk sheep. Around the year 1975 there were about 500 Zwartbles sheep, however, many were not purebred. Since that time a lot has changed as well. The breed became more and more appreciated because of the good use properties, the beautiful appearance and the good milk production. In 2006 there were about 4000 sheep registered with the Zwartbles studbook in the Netherlands.