Leadersheep Society in Iceland
by Olafur R. Dyrmundsson

"Although efforts have been made to preserve leadersheep by keeping
leader rams at AI centres for over 40 years, it was felt that greater
attention should be paid to them.

The Leadersheep Society was founded in April 2000 and its name in
Icelandic is: Forystufjarraektarfelag Islands. The Minister of
Agriculture, Mr. Gudni Agustsson was actively involved in the
foundation of the society....Leadersheep were and still are kept on
Brunastadir Farm in South-Iceland where his father and now his brother
raise cattle, sheep and horses.

The main aims of the society....are to support the maintenance and
preservation of leadersheep, improve individual recording, gather
information past and present and disseminate educational material about
them in due course. In the early stages, emphasis will be placed on
attracting interest of all those breeding and keeping leadersheep, to
record them regularly, mainly through our breeding societies and give
support to the selection of promising rams for the AI services. In a
survey carried out 8 years ago, 960 purebred and 490 crossbred
leadersheep were recorded in the country. This winter (2000) the total
number of sheep in the country was 490,000.

Most of the purebred leaders are in Northeast Iceland and relatively
many farmers up there keep them, even as many as 20-30 in a single
flock. Now we hope to obtain more up-to-date information on their
distribution.

A Nordic study is in progress on the origin of Nordic breeds and strains,
including Icelandic leadersheep. A DNA analysis is being undertaken so
we should learn something more about their genetic background in the
near future."

My thanks go out to Dr. Olafur R. Dyrmundsson for his generous
contribution of this article and for his permission to reprint it here.

Also, thanks go to Gumundur Johannesson of Southram Station for
providing the photographs of the leader rams.
For more information about Southram please visit
http://southram.bssl.is
The Lavender Fleece is proud to be a member of the Leadersheep
Society of Iceland. Here at our farm we have leadersheep from the
bloodlines of all five leadersheep in North America: Blesa, Ari, Biskup,
Prestur, Skumur and Leifur.