special Characteristics
The Icelandic sheep is one of the world's oldest and
purest breeds of sheep. They were first brought to
Iceland between 874 A.D. and 1100 A.D. by the
 The sheep adapted well to the harsh weather
conditions and thrived on the sparse grasses and
seaweed of the rough and rocky terrain.
  The Vikings were well known for their ability to
survive the harsh Scandinavian climates, so it is easy
to see why the Icelandic sheep may have been prized
above all other live stock.
   This Unique Breed of Sheep met the many needs of
these Ancient People, serving as a source of meat,
and milk, (Used in cheese production in Iceland for
many centuries.) Pelts were used for clothing, and
wool was used in FELT making which dates back to
these ancient times, well before the discovery of
   Both Ewes and Rams can be polled or horned.
Horns were used for buttons, tools and weapons, etc.
    The ewes are very prolific with twins being normal
and triplets not uncommon. The sheep have
remarkable longevity.You can see why the Icelandic
Sheep was valued among an Ancient People.
There is in this breed certain calm, quiet, super intuitive, and intelligent
individuals that are called Leader Sheep in Iceland. No breed has this
unusual attribute. Leader Sheep, for example, had the uncanny ability to
sense dangerous storms and lead the flock home through "white-out"
blizzard conditions, thus saving the lives of shepherd and flock. The
animals have been bred for that trait for a 1000 years and are prized in
     We are very pleased to have some Leader Sheep in our flock!
Leadersheep article taken from the Icelandic
sheep breeders of North America Newsletter
(written by Olafur R D rmundsson)
Issue four-Fall 2002 (page 4) With
permission from the ISBONA President.
There has been a growing interest in recent
years in strengthening efforts to preserve
the unique leadersheep strain of the
Icelandic sheep breed. Leadersheep have
also attracted attention amongst breeders of
Icelandic sheep in North America. In a
survey carried out 10 years ago, 960
purebred and 490 crossbred leadersheep were
recorded in the country of Iceland. Most of
the purebred leaders are in NE-Iceland but
they are found in all parts of the country.
Leaderrams have been kept at Sheep A.I.
centres for over 40 years and this has helped
a great deal to preserve this unique strain of
sheep. A nordic study (NGH) is now in
progress on the origin of Nordic sheep breeds
and strains. A DNA analysis has already
indicated that leadersheep are unique within
the Iceland breed and further information is
expected about their genetic background.
The Leader-sheep Society of Iceland,
founded in April 2000, has now 150
members. It will place emphasis on
individual recording and the collection of
more up-to-date information on the
distribution of leadersheep in the country.