Why Icelandic Sheep?
Icelandic Sheep are an “unimproved” breed, meaning their genetics are almost entirely the same as their ancestors’ from a thousand or so years back. This means they do well in a climate like Vermont’s; they prefer cooler summers and do very well in the frigid winters. They are fantastic mothers, excellent grazers, and carry themselves well over our farm’s countless slopes. Their “ancient” characteristics mean that the ewes come into estrus in the fall, similar to deer, so they cannot breed during the summer. That means we can keep our rams in the flock all summer without fear of unplanned lambs. Plus, the rams and ewes have horns, which allows for less stressful handling, but also helps keep the sheep cool on a hot summer day by dispersing heat!
Icelandic lamb meat is considered gourmet; tender with a mild flavor, which is directly influenced by the sheep’s diet, which is 100% grass and plant matter.
WHy Rotational Grazing?
Rotational grazing is the practice of moving animals to new grass as often as twice per day, or up to every 2-3 days. It’s beneficial for many reasons: increased forage (grass) production, increased soil fertility (by spreading manure evenly), absorption of water into the soil, which helps prevent flooding and drought. more efficient grazing and less waste, mitigates soil compaction, and allows us to work with and inspect the sheep often. There is so much literature out there on rotational grazing, I encourage you to Google it! We use “flex-net”, or temporary electric fencing to contain the sheep in their rotational pastures.