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March 2023 BBSAI Newsletter Blog

Written by Leah Matzke

1. New Member Feature

Greetings from snowy Minnesota!

My husband, Benjamin, and I have been raising BBSAI-registered sheep for the past two seasons on a small 40-acre farm in southern Minnesota. We rotationally graze cattle through a series of paddocks on our property and decided to add sheep into the mix to help take care of the brush/weeds the cattle would leave behind. This need led us to the beautiful & hardy American Blackbelly Sheep.

We were first exposed to Barbados and American Blackbelly sheep through Benjamin’s uncle, who raised them on a farm in Minnesota Lake since my husband could remember. We liked that they were hardy, easy to care for, and required no shearing or tail docking, and we decided to start a flock with six BBSAI foundation ewes & two breeding rams that originated from Wisconsin.

We have been happy with our decision. Grazing our cattle and sheep across the same fields has allowed us to utilize our limited pasture more fully. We can grow more pounds of sheep and cattle than when we had cattle alone, and the sheep have proven to be the more profitable enterprise on the farm when you consider time and feed input.

Our entire family enjoys watching these beautiful animals, and springtime lambs are always met with delight by our children. I have yet to be quick enough to witness a birth – the ewes are such fast and easy lambers, with strong mothering instincts. We have had several sets of triplets and one quad in our small flock to date.

Finding registered breeding stock in Minnesota was difficult, and we are the only farm we can locate in the state with an active membership with the BBSAI. We would both love to encourage and foster more beginning breeders like ourselves and really see this majestic breed flourish. You can learn more about us and our family farm at

Pictured: our youngest daughter bringing empty water buckets in from the field. Our flock is very social and likes to come up for scratches or treats.

2. Marketing Support for BBSAI Breeders

In an effort to help better promote the BBSAI and these unique sheep, Leah Matzke has offered to help association members with their marketing efforts. If your farm could use help creating digital or print designs, please send your project idea to and Leah will work with you to see your ideas come to life. This service is offered FREE OF CHARGE for Active BBSAI members, as time allows.

A few suggested items we could create together to help promote your sheep:

  • Farm business cards
  • A printable farm flyer to advertise lamb or breeding stock that can be pinned on community bulletin boards
  • Freezer guide: graphic to share how much meat can be expected from 1 lamb
  • Recipe card: your favorite lamb recipe and farm contact information
  • Social Media breed highlights: Digital card with your photos and general breed information

See below for a few samples of pre-designed art we can drop your contact information or images onto. If you have any ideas for creative ad copy the association can use, please let us know! We are always looking for ways to expand the reach of this breed.