Breeding Goals

-A stocky body: this includes a nice deep ribcage with well sprung ribs; good muscling over the shoulders with some width across the withers; muscular front legs that connect squarely at the chest, with some width at the chest (though not too exaggerated to avoid birthing difficulties); large, well muscled hindquarters with a good slope over the pelvis (makes for easier birthing in ewes)

-Nice soft wool, in a variety of natural colors. Ideally, we’d like both the fall and spring clips usable; some sheep produce two spinnable shearings, some do not.

-Stocky, straight legs to properly support and carry a sheep into old age; I prefer the look of the shorter legs, so while not required, I expect to see my flock head that direction as well

-Good predictable horns; consistently widely spaced from the ram’s face, and consistently passed

-Good temperament; not too flighty or wild, but not too pushy either. Good, sane sheep that are overall easy to handle and decently docile.

-Good natural parasite resistance. We’d like to be able to not have to use chemical wormers for any of our sheep.

-Easy birthing. This is a common trait of the Icelandics, but all the same, those with the easiest time giving birth unassisted will be favored.

-Good mothering. Another common trait of Icelandics; I think it’s self explanatory.

-Milky enough to raise big healthy lambs.

These are our goals we are working towards. Most can be summed up as a minimal maintenance sheep with good productivity. I’d like to maintain the hardiness of this one.

Freya is very close to our ideal for build; I’d only like to see a little more muscling in the hindquarters. Otherwise, she has great wide horns, short stocky legs, had no notable worm load all last summer, and is a spectacular, milky mother. She also has soft, abundant wool that gave us usable clips both shearings. (Though that can’t be seen in this picture.)

Another trait we plan to look at in the future is genetic scrapie resistance. There is a test for this at codons 136 (A/V), 154 (H/R), and 171 (Q/R). Most sheep breeds just need an R at the 171 codon to be considered scrapie immune; however, Icelandics have never been found to carry R. They are all Q. So, other codons have been studied for scrapie resistance (136 and 154). Icelandic sheep that are AHQ (A at 136, H at 154, Q at 171) are believed to be scrapie immune. While we have not tested for this yet, it is in the plans.

(Click here for a scholarly article on the topic.)