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Conservation status
  • FAO (2007): not at risk[1]
  • rapidly decreasing[2]
Other names Barbaresca Siciliana
Country of origin Italy
Standard MIPAAF
Type fat-tailed
Use triple-purpose: meat/milk/wool
  • Male: 110 kg[3]
  • Female: 65 kg[3]
  • Male: 85 cm[3]
  • Female: 80 cm[3]
Skin color pinkish, tending to pale brown
Wool color white
Face color white, often mottled with black

The Barbaresca or Barbaresca Siciliana is a breed of large fat-tailed sheep from the Mediterranean island of Sicily, in southern Italy.[2][4] It derives from the cross-breeding between indigenous Sicilian Pinzirita sheep with fat-tailed Barbary (or Barbarin) sheep of Maghrebi origin. These were probably brought to the island after the Muslim conquest of Sicily in the 9th century; Arabic texts preserved at Agrigento document the movement of large numbers of sheep to the Sicilian interior.[2]

The Barbaresca is raised throughout most of Sicily and in Abruzzo.[2] It is a triple-purpose breed, yielding meat, milk, and wool. The wool is not now in demand and the Barbaresca is kept principally for meat and milk production. It yields approximately 140–160 litres of milk per lactation, with 6–9% fat.[2]

The Barbaresca is one of the seventeen autochthonous Italian sheep breeds for which a genealogical herdbook is kept by the Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia, the Italian national association of sheep-breeders.[5] In 1983 the breed population was estimated at 75,000 head, of which 5500 were registered.[2] In 2013 the number registered for the breed was 1260.[6]


  1. ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (eds.) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Daniele Bigi, Alessio Zanon (2008). Atlante delle razze autoctone: Bovini, equini, ovicaprini, suini allevati in Italia (in Italian). Milan: Edagricole. ISBN 9788850652594. p. 186–187.
  3. ^ a b c d Caratteri tipici e indirizzi di miglioramento della razza Barbaresca Siciliana (in Italian). Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali. Accessed May 2014.
  4. ^ Breed data sheet: Barbaresca Siciliana / Italy. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed December 2013.
  5. ^ Le razze ovine e caprine in Italia (in Italian). Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia: Ufficio centrale libri genealogici e registri anagrafici razze ovine e caprine. p. 18. Accessed December 2013.
  6. ^ Consistenze Provinciali della Razza 23 Barbaresca Anno 2013 (in Italian). Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia: Banca dati. Accessed December 2013.