Icelandic info

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by kssdc2001, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. kssdc2001

    kssdc2001 Active Member

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    Jun 21, 2005
    Location:
    VA
    Hi --
    I'm a new member and breeder of Icleandic sheep (OK, owner of icelandic sheep -- not ready to sell yet). I just posted a long message about the breed on the February discussion on Icealndics as the sheep of the month -- and then I realized it said FEBRUARY not JUNE. Did I mention that one of the advantages of Icelandics is that they are very forgiving for scatterbrained shepherds like myself. In any case, I want to repeat the post here just because I do love this breed and I wanted, with my lmited knowledge, to clear up a couple of questions that were raised in February. Sorry to be in the wrong month -- but I just found this site and who knows when it will be the Icelandics turn again!

    Original post: Hi all --
    I'm new to this site, but have Icelandics and love them. What a surprise that they are sheep of the montht he month I joined! I definitely would recommend checking out the ISBONA site if you are interested, they are beautiful. The tongue river site is really good (someone else mentioned that) as is http://www.mainesheepfarm.com/. This site has some good pictures and a series of articles on raising Icelandics for first time shepherds.

    My husband and I are first time shepherds -- we have a herd of 18 now hoping to build it to about 35. These have been wonderful sheep fo us, very hardy, forgiving of our rookie mistakes, great mothers who lambed for us this year unaided, and yielding fabulous wool (I am a spinner). They also have really great personalities -- very funny and clever (watch your fences, sometimes a little too clever).

    I want to take exception to a couple things on this thread -- though I am hoping a more experienced breeder might weigh in too. I had not experienced -- nor have I heard in my many conversations with Icleandic breeders (we did a lot of researcher before we started our flock) that Icelandics are more susceptible to worms than other breeds. I think they are about the same: you worm them regularly and you'll be fine -- and I believe, being a primative breed -- they are generally more hardy than most sheep breeds.

    Second, someone said the breed suffers from a no cull problem, and I definitely don't think that is true. The breed group, ISBONA, spends a lot of time talking about and encouraging good culling practices, and most of the breeders I know through ISBONA do cull heavily. It is in the interest of all the breeders for the Icelandic breed to be a strong all purpose breed -- and that means culling.

    Something I haven't seen mentioned about Icelandics is that they can be artificially inseminated in a much simplier way than most other breeds (for lack of a better word, a turkey baster approach rather than full surgery). This approach works only on Icleandics and some Norweigen breed I've never seen. It has allowed the North American Icleandic stock to be "Refreshed" every year with the absolute best genetics from Icelandic rams. The technique must be learned in a day long seminar (there may be one offered at Rheinbeck this year) and some investment in equipment is needed, but it has meant that the breed in North America is very strong.

    Finally, I've never seen a $1000 ewe -- maybe a foundation ram with incredible AI genetics. I haven't even seen a $500 ewe. There's no monetary magic in Icelandics -- the magic is in their great fleeces, meat, and personalities.

    For the Western VA potential shepherd, we're in Greenville VA and there is another breeder I know well in Montpelier. If you do get Icelandics, let me know. We have an informal midatlantic branch of ISBONA you might want to get involved with.

    Cheers!
    Kate and Nick
    Green Fence Farm
    Greenville, VA
     
  2. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    Thanks for the info, Kate and Nick! Especially the Maine link, hadn't seen it before, even in my searches.

    In comparison to Romney fleece, how would you describe working with Icelandic? I'm seriously considering adding one of these to my flock and am curious how people react to the outer layer when they spin it for the first time or two. Does it take some getting used to?
     

  3. kssdc2001

    kssdc2001 Active Member

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    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2005
    Location:
    VA
    I've only been spinning about a year, and I find Icelandic very easy to spin. I've always spun the outer (Tog) and inner (Thel) coats carded together -- I've heard you can separate them, though I think it would be lots of work. It spins easily into a single ply (lopi) which is durable and soft. I alos have done a bulky two ply. The thel is like cashmere -- amazingly soft.

    If you get one, you'll want more. They come in 16 different color/patterns with a lot of shade variation within the patterns. I think the brown ones (moorits) are just beautiful. ANd I have a moorit spotted that cards into the most amazing white tweedy looking roving.

    They are great sheep for a spinner's flock. Thye have a lot of personalities -- really more like goats. And they are tremendously hardy -- I am embarassed at the rookie shepherding errors we have made with our flock and, knock wood, we haven't had even an hour of illness in the flock.
     
  4. woolyfluff

    woolyfluff Well-Known Member

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    May 23, 2004
    AREN'T THEY pRETTY WE ARE FROM NORTHERN PA. WE HAVE 25ISH AND LOVE THEM AS MUCH AS THEY LOVE US HAVE HAD THEN FOR 6 YEARS AND HAVEN'T LOST ANY BABIES YET HTTP://SOMETHINGSHAPPININ.TRIPOD.COM HERE WHAT WE HAVE YOU WILL ENJOY THEM EACH AND COMING YEAR
     
  5. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    My husband will kill me on Saturday (so if you don't see me again after tomorrow, you'll know why!) because I've traded a couple of my wethers for a couple of icelandic ewe lambs :p One is half, the other purebred. The owner is a bit concened that the half breed won't have the best wool, but I can always use another felting sheep. Plus I like her build a bit more than the other lamb, she's a bit stouter, got a better leg under her.
     
  6. lisarichards

    lisarichards Well-Known Member

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    Dec 6, 2004
    Location:
    NH
    We are really enjoying our Icelandics. We got them last fall, as well as a small herd of Shetlands, and they are so different. We enjoy both breeds, actually. I sent all of my Icelandic fleeces to a mill that specializes in separating the two lengths, Morning Star Fiber. My scheduled time was July 1st, so I haven't got the roving back yet, but I can hardly wait!

    We're only going to trade or sell two lambs. They both have their Daddy's really sweet disposition, and are wooling out really well.