The Icelandic Sheep is one of the world's
oldest and purest breeds of sheep. Through
the centuries, Icelandic sheep have been used in
their native Iceland for fiber, meat, and milk
production, and bred to fulfill all three of
those needs. They were first imported to the
United States within the past twenty years.
The tail is naturally short, eliminating the need
for docking. The breed has both naturally
polled and horned individuals in both ewes and
rams. They are a medium size breed: full grown
ewes in good condition weigh 132-160 lbs.,
rams weigh 180-220 lbs.
The lambs are born small which is desirable
and understandable since the normal
gestation of 142-144 days for Icelandic Sheep
is on average five days less than the standard
North American breeds. Lambs are incredibly
vigorous, getting on their feet within minutes
of birth and nursing.
Icelandic ewes are seasonal breeders,
beginning to come into heat in late October.
They will continue cycling until May if not
bred, but seldom breed naturally in summer.
Lambs reach sexual maturity early, with ewes
commonly lambing at 11-12 months of age.
Prolificacy is quite good on average 175% to
200%. Triplets are fairly common. A Boorola
type gene (multiple births i.e. triplets, quads,
and quints) has been found in the Iceland breed
called the Thoka gene named after the first
ewe known to carry this gene.
The Icelandic Sheep's natural colored fleece
is striking. Icelandics come in many colors and
patterns from rich brown, black, white and tan
to a subtle hues of silver and gray. The fleece
is dual coated, providing excellent fiber for
the home spinner.