Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Facts about the Icelandic Sheep

Icelandic sheep are a medium size breed of wool sheep that come from Iceland.  They are the decendants of sheep brought over to Iceland by the Vikings.  Icelandic sheep have naturally short tails which are not docked in North America as this disqualifies them from being registered.

Some Icelandic sheep are polled (have no horns) and others are non-polled (have horns), and horns can occur in both genders. These sheep come in many colors, with black, and patterned, sheep being common, as well as shades of brown. The Icelandic sheep have clean faces (not woolly), and clean legs. Some producers will shear their Icelandic sheep twice a year, once in the late winter, and again in the early fall.

photo source

The fleece of an Icelandic sheep consists of a soft undercoat, known as thel, and a longer coarse outer coat, known as tog. Thel is very soft and often used for baby clothes, tog is ideal for weaving. The two are sometimes used together as lopi.

The fleece of an Icelandic sheep is low in lanolin and often considered to be of good quality. Their wool is often used for carpets.

The Icelandic sheep breed is over 1,100 years old and have a reputation for being cold hardy, and tough.  Their hardiness comes as a result of natural breeding, and selected breeding, in the harsh climate, and environment, that is Iceland, a country where grain is not produced, and summer is relatively short.

Icelandic sheep are very prolific, often having twins or triplets, often producers prefer ewes to only have a single for their first year.

In North America Icelandic sheep are registered with the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation, and must be tattooed.

More information on Icelandic Sheep:

About Horns on Sheep

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