the triple-purpose breed
- versatile & colorful
- especially suited for
homestead/farmstead cheese operations
- gourmet, mild taste
|Some Quick Facts
SIZE: Icelandic sheep are a medium size sheep: full grown ewes in good condition (considered mature
at 3 years of age) & should weigh 132-160 lbs. Rams should weigh 180-220 lbs.
NO DOCKING: Another bonus to having Icelandic sheep is that their tails are naturally short so there is
no need to dock tails.
EARLY MATURITY: Icelandics mature early and can breed their first year if they are grown out well. Ewe
lambs breeding should weigh at minimum 80 lbs. and preferably 90-100 lbs. First time ewe lamb
moms usually do great.
EXCELLENT MOTHERS: The ewes are easy lambers (if not overfed in late pregnancy), excellent
mothers, and often twin or even have triplets (there is also a multiple birth gene called the "Thoka"
gene that produces quads - that often are reared by their own mothers who are capable of producing
ample milk to support their offspring if they have proper nutrition). We have weighed some lambs and
seen some incredible rates of growth. For instance, a single ram lamb out of an Ari daughter (Patsy
Montana) weighed 42 lbs. at 20 days of age. His rate of growth was 1 and 1/2 lbs. per day on mother's
milk. A set of triplets to another Ari daughter (Victoria) each weighed 21 lbs. at 21 days of age. They
were each gaining at the rate of .67 lbs. per day, a whopping 2 lbs. of gain per day on mother's milk. A
son of a Heli daughter weighed 25 lbs. at 18 days of age. His rate of gain was 1 lb. per day. We had
one ram lamb weigh in at 115 lbs. at 16 weeks of age.
HORNED or POLLED: Both ewes and rams come polled or horned. The emphasis on our farm is
producing quality animals with good horns. There is even a rare, primitive genetic trait that produces
4-horned Icelandic sheep, male or female (not yet available in North America).
LEADERSHEEP: In order to survive in Iceland, the Icelandic sheep developed it's own leadersheep that,
through the centuries, have proven to have a strong genetically based intelligence, developed to help
the sheep survive. There are now severallines of leadersheep in the United States and here at The
Lavender Fleece we have leadersheep lines that include Blesa, Ari, Prestur , Skumur, and Leifur.
|According to Ryder (1991) "domestic
sheep have a smaller heart and a
smaller eye socket than wild sheep, and
the brain is about 20% smaller. There is
a reduction in brain size of about 8%
between primitive domestic and modern
breeds of sheep." So when the claim is
made that Icelandic sheep are smart -
science is now backing it up! (from "The
Genetics of Sheep" by Piper and
Ruvinsky, page 24.)