Our Family & Stalwart Creatures
In 2015, after extensive research on various livestock heritage breeds we purchased a small flock of purebred, registered Icelandic sheep and brought them to Thunder Bay. We were looking for hardy breeds that could easily tolerate the harsh winters of Thunder Bay and flourish with minimal input. It was our hope that our flock could grow along side our growing family and not only provide sustenance to our family while also precious learning opportunities to our young children.
About Icelandic Sheep
In the middle ages, the Vikings brought sheep with the hardy, vigorous, and diverse characteristics suitable for Viking settlement to Iceland. There, in the harsh environment this breed has remained genetically unchanged for 1100 years and is one of the oldest and purest domesticated sheep breeds in the world.
Roughly three decades ago, over 80 Icelandic sheep were imported to southern Ontario. These sheep would become the base stock for Icelandic sheep in North America, including our sheep.
Icelandic sheep are likely best known for their fleece which is of high quality and can be spun into "lopi" wool. Their fleece is also excellent for felting. Icelandic pelts are also very popular. Icelandic lamb is highly sought after being considered a gourmet style of meat that is described as fine grained with a delicate flavor. Icelandic sheep are also known to be used for dairy, and their rich milk is known to easily produce cheese. Icelandic sheep are therefore known to be triple purpose, although milk is only often harvested at the homestead level.
Icelandic sheep are described as a stout and medium sized sheep. They are the largest of the short-tailed sheep. They can be either horned or polled and they have a long lustrous fleece that comes is a large variety of colours and patterns.
Icelandic Sheep: Desirable Breed Characteristics
We chose Icelandic sheep due to the following documented breed characteristics:
- Lambs grow fast and mature early.
- Icelandic sheep are long lived and ewes can produce 13 years or more.
- Ewes are reliable twiners, and have high milk production which lends well to their milking ability as well as their ability to nurse triplets.
- An adult ram can breed 60 ewes and is extremely fertile.
- Icelandic sheep are known for their foraging capabilities. They can efficiently forage on what would be described as less then optimal pasture. They do not require grain, and can be raised and fattened on grass.
- Icelandic sheep are also known to be hardy, healthy and disease resistant.
- An Icelandic sheep in full fleece requires little to no shelter except a good windbreak and summer shade.