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Our Available Icelandic Sheep and Fleece

 

The Icelandic Sheep
History, Characteristics and Description

 

icelandic sheep Pineridge Icelandics

Icelandic Sheep Pineridge Icelandics

 

The Icelandic sheep breed is descended from the sheep brought to Iceland by the Viking settlers in the 9th and 10th century and is related to the short-tailed Northern European breeds - the Russian Romanov, the Finnish Landrace, Swedish Gotland, the Spaelsau in Norway and the Shetland in the United Kingdom.

Of these breeds, the Romanov and the Icelandic are the largest breeds, classified as "medium size".   The "leadersheep" are a unique strain within Icelandic sheep, and other sheep in the flock will follow the leadersheep with complete trust.   Shepherds also trust the instincts of the leadersheep, who seem to be able to sense the weather, good or bad, and find their way over treacherous ground, also lead the way home in very bad weather.

The breed is primarily horned (both ewes and rams), but in Iceland about 30% are polled.   Mature ewes weigh between 150-160 lbs. And mature rams 200 - 220 lbs.   The ewes are prolific and good milkers.   The lambs grow quite fast, the average lamb having a liveweight of 80 lbs., and a dressed carcass weight of  32 lbs at approximately 4 months old.

They are mainly white but about 15% - 20% are non-white, with a very interesting range of colours.   The natural breeding season runs from late November to early May.   Rams appear to be sexually active throughout the year.   The average length of gestation is 143 days.   Normally about 98% of mature ewes and 60-80% of ewe lambs conceive.

 

 

Icelandic Sheep Pineridge Icelandics

Icelandic Sheep Pineridge Icelandics Ewe

 

There are three factors that determine the appearance of an Icelandic sheep:  the pattern factor, of which there are 6 forms, the colour or pigment factor, of which there are two forms, and the spotting factor, or which there are also two forms.   Most sheep breeds exhibit only one pattern, i.e. Suffolks with black head and black feet, however, Icelandic sheep can be White, Grey Mouflon, Grey Badgerface and Mouflon, finally solid colour.   The colour forms are black and brown (moorit).   The spotted factor allows for white patches on top of the pattern/colour combination.

icelandic sheep Pineridge Icelandics EweIcelandic sheep are well known for their fleece, which varies from 3" to 18" in length and 50's to 70's in count.   The fleece has a fine soft undercoat called the "thel", which is about 3" long, and a coarser outer coat, which is called the "tog".   The outer coat sheds rain well and the thel protects the sheep from the constant winds of Iceland.   The sheep naturally sheds its fleece but traditionally now is sheared, often twice a year.   Also the skin is excellent as a pelt skin, partly due to how few hair follicles they have.   The average fleece weights 4 - 5 lbs. In the grease.   The colour variation also makes it extremely appealing.

In Iceland the sheep are bred almost exclusively for meat, and in fact more than 80% of the income from sheep is from meat, which is fine grained and has an excellent flavour.

In Iceland the sheep go off into the Highlands in the spring and are rounded up in the fall, which is where the Icelandic sheepdog is invaluable.    They search out the sheep and drive them down to large circular collecting pens, where farmers then identify their sheep according to ear marks and sort them into small pens off the holding pen.   Icelandic sheep are now sometimes sheared twice a year.

 

 

 

 

 

Pineridge Icelandics

1049 Hepburn Rd

Chase, B.C. Canada V0E 1M1

pineice@pineridgeicelandics.com

250-679-3540