Icelandic Sheep

The history of Icelandic sheep

Icelandic sheep belong to the Northern Short-Tail group of sheep. They were taken to Iceland by the Vikings, who colonised the island between 870 and 930 AD. Genetically they are the same today as they were 1100 years ago, and are one of the oldest and purest domesticated breeds of sheep in the world today.

They are a primitive breed, and still show many of the characteristics of wild sheep, with their dual coat that is moulted and often coloured. They differ from British primitive sheep in that over the centuries they have become larger, and can be more docile. Icelandic sheep have remained rare in the UK since being imported here for breeding purposes in 1979.

The uses for Icelandic sheep

Icelandic sheep can provide meat, milk, coloured fleece and skins. They will happily clear rough grazing land. In the UK they are kept mainly for their coloured fleece.

The fleece of Icelandic sheep / Technical information about the fleece

  • Staple length: Undercoat 6 cms.  Outercoat 21 cms.
  • Bradford count 46–70
  • Micron measurement 80–12
  • Weight 2-3 Kgs