Icelandic Sheep

Fleur as a lamb If you would like to see the list of animals for sale, Click Here

In my opinion, and we all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the Icelandic Sheep are the most beautiful and graceful sheep of all. Unlike many breeds where the entire flock looks the same, Icelandic sheep are available in such a variety of colours and patterns and are available as either horned or polled (hornless) lines that there seems to be an almost endless variety of animals you can have on your farm.

While there may only be 5000 or so registered Icelandics in all of North America, they are not a rare breed by any means when you factor in the estimated 1/2 million animals living in Iceland at any given time.

Many consider Icelandics a "triple-purpose" sheep, with meat, fiber and dairy all available as potential revenue producers (or for private use). At Cape Street Farm we primarily raise the animals for meat and fiber. None-the-less, given our flock came from a discontinued dairy operation(more on this below), many of the animal have fine milking pedigrees somewhere in their background - and wether or not you plan on milking the sheep for your own purposes, having mother ewes with plenty of milk for their lambs is always a good thing.

There is so much good information available on the internet about Icelandic Sheep, that I do not plan on duplicating it all here on this site. Checkout our partner website www.IcelandicSheep.Org for general information about Icelandic Sheep, or www.IcelandicSheepBreeders.com for researching information about specific animals, bloodlines, AI genetics etc. Both of these sites are under construction but will be updated frequently.

The origins of our foundation flock

Honey as a lamb After having successfully raised Gulf Coast sheep for a few years, we decided to add another breed to our farm, and quickly set our sites on the Icelandic breed. We researched what we could on the web, and then visited a few local farms that had animals for sale. One of those farms, True North Farm, had just moved into the neighbouring town of Worthington, Mass from upstate New York and its head shepherd, met with us for several hours as we looked thru his flock of almost 300 animals and we picked out a selection of about 5 or 6 sheep to begin our new flock - that was on December 12th, 2004.

Less than 48 hours later, that shepherd was killed in a tragic farming accident and as  a result the entire flock was shortly thereafter put up for sale. Our original plan to purchase 5-6 sheep resulted in us putting together a "starter" flock of almost 40 animals to add to almost 40 already living on the farm. Things got busy fast on our farm and we went from having no Icelandic sheep, to having fantastic bloodlines from many  great A.I. and farm-bred sires and a collection of sheep in almost every conceivable color and pattern.

A very brief history of Icelandic Sheep in the U.S.

The history of Icelandic sheep in North America, is largely the history of one woman's struggle (Stefania Sveinbjarnardottir-Dignum of Yeoman Farm, now deceased) to import sheep from her homeland of Iceland into Canada. Before July 1985 there was not a single Icelandic Sheep in all of North America.

After several year struggle to get the necessary permits from Canada, and Iceland, the first 12 sheep left Iceland and arrived in Canada several days later in 1985. The original importation consisted of 2 rams and 10 ewes. Five years later, in 1990, a second (and last ever) importation was done and another 70 +/- animals arrived into Canada, and shortly thereafter began making their way down to breeders in the United States. For more information about the history of Icelandic Sheep, see www.IcelandicSheep.Org

Artificial Insemination & Genetic Diversity

The unavoidable side-effect of building an entirely new population of Icelandic sheep from a  small pool of foundation animals was the lack of genetic diversity, and the lack of access to new bloodlines to improve the breed. To solve this problem, the necessary permits were obtained by a small group of breeders to import frozen semen directly from farms in Iceland. The imported semen was packaged for the only technique available at the time - Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination - in which a trained veterinarian or veterinary technician surgically implants the semen directly onto the ovaries of the ewe that has been prepped for several days with hormones to get her ready for the "treatment". While this procedure worked, it was difficult to do, hard on the animals and very expensive since it required a trained technician to travel to the farm to carry out the procedure - but it did solve the problem of genetic diversity for a small number of breeders, and those that purchased from those breeders. The first LAI lambs were born in the spring of 1999.

Fleur as a lambSeveral years later a new technique was developed by scientists in Iceland that would allow almost anyone, with a bit of training, to perform a new type of insemination - Vaginal Artificial Insemination, or VAI. A first ever training seminar was scheduled in Iceland and a small group of breeders were trained on the technique with good success. A few years later, in the fall of 2005, a second training was held in Rhinebeck, New York and dozen or so more farms became trained on this technique - including Cape Street Farm.

Since that time, we at Cape Street Farm have been introducing new genetics from the very best rams in Iceland into our flock with great success. In the fall of 2005 we successfully inseminated some of our ewes with semen from Aladin, Laekur, Grimur and Trassi. In the fall of 2007 we will be using semen from Rekktor, Tyr Lodi, Partur, Snoddi and Aegir on our flock.

Animals for sale

Please check back soon for our complete sales list. We will have 5 polled lambs (4 ewes and 1 ram) with a nice variety of AI bloodlines listed with details. Contact if you are looking for a ewe lamb this winter. We don't breed our ewe lambs the first year so these animals are ready to go anytime. Prices range from $250-$450.

Our current flock

Check back here soon for a listing of our current flock of Icelandics with photos.

 

For More Information

There is a lot of information already written about Icelandic sheep, and located easily thru a web search, so I won't try to duplicate it all here on this site. In addition to searching the web, visit our partner website www.IcelandicSheep.Org for more information about the Icelandic Breed in general and additional links on the web.