The population of sheep in Iceland is the lowest it has been in forty years, according to Bændablaðið. The number of sheep is down by just over 50% since 1980. At the same time, the cattle population has risen by over 35% over the last forty years. It is unclear why.
According to agricultural statistics, winter-fed sheep were close to 828,000 in Iceland in 1980, but are now under 416,000. This number does not account for the number of newborn sheep, or sheep that go to slaughter, but it does encompass all caprinae raised on the farms and fed winter feed, including goats.
Cattle, on the other hand, have increased in the country. By the end of 2019, farmers reported that the number of cattle was almost 81,000, including dairy cows. In contrast, there were just under 60,000 in 1980.
Sheep farming was the greatest in the northwest part of the country, including the Westfjörds, where sheep were 112,000, and least in the Southwest, where they numbered just over 2,200. Most of the cattle were found in the southern region, with more than 30,000 cows.
While it is unclear the cause of the sudden downturn in sheep population, and the cause of the sudden rise in cattle population, it stands to reason that the sheep are shy and the farmers are staying home and keeping a closer eye on them, while the cows are absolutely shameless, and don’t care who sees them.
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