One of the oldest breeds of sheep is perfect for small farms. Cathy Isom has more details about the Icelandic breed.
The Icelandic sheep has been around for more than 1,100 years. Yet, it’s often overlooked as one of the best breeds of sheep for small farmers. This is likely because shepherding has largely gone by the wayside as a form of agriculture in the United States.
Sheep is one of the best kinds of livestock you can raise because they can produce meat, milk, fiber and even lanolin. The Icelandic sheep is the perfect animal for all of those needs, but also for someone who is new to shepherding and would like an easy introduction to the hobby. Sheep can be difficult to raise when you consider predator pressure, fencing and feeding – but the Icelandic sheep make it all much easier.
Icelandic sheep are also prized by farmers and homesteaders because they are efficient breeders. As seasonal breeders, they can be mated as early as five to seven months of age. Multiple births are quite common, with twins, triplets, and even quadruplets, quintuplets, or even sextuplets occasionally born.
Today, the population of sheep in Iceland outnumbers the human population at a ratio of three to one – at least, before the annual slaughter anyway. Icelandic sheep are also unique in that their fleece is dual-coated. In addition to the classic white, these sheep can be found in a variety of other colors.
You don’t need a ton of experience in raising sheep to try this breed. They are self-sufficient and incredibly hardy. When provided with just a bit of good pasture and fresh, clean water, the Icelandic sheep breed can easily be considered the best breed of sheep for your small farm.
I’m Cathy Isom…