From Iceland — Sheep News: Miracle Birth, Six-Horned Ram, Scrapie-Resistant Sheep

Sheep News: Miracle Birth, Six-Horned Ram, Scrapie-Resistant Sheep

Published January 18, 2022

Photo by
John Pearson

It’s been a busy week in the world of sheep journalism in Iceland. Here are the top stories.

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RÚV reports that sheep farmers Marzibil Erlendsdóttir and Aðalheiður Elfríð Heiðarsdóttir of the remote East Iceland locale of Dalatangi went to their sheep barn yesterday morning and discovered that one of their sheep had given birth to two lambs. While not by itself cause for headlines, the matter is made all the more mysterious because this particular sheep was supposed to have been neutered. Lambs are not normally born in January, but they say this sheep was left with a ram last August, which explains the early arrival. There is as yet no explanation for how a neutered sheep got pregnant, though.

Speaking of rams, Vísir reports on a most unusual ram on the South Iceland farm of Ósabakki. His name is Sexi, although probably not because he is a particularly attractive ram, but rather because he has six horns (the Icelandic word for “six” being “sex”). He also happens to be tri-coloured, making him especially unique. Jökull Helgasson, the farmer who tends to Sexi, told reporters that Sexi seeks out human attention, and has also been popular with sheep–some 11 sheep have visited Sexi during breeding season, so time will tell if other multi-horned sheep are born elsewhere in the country in the upcoming birthing season.

Finally, Vísir reports on another ram of note: Gimsteinn, who hails from Reyðarfjörður in East Iceland. He, along with his five female cousins, all bear the ARR halotype. This halotype is resistant to the fatal nervous system disease scrapie. The disease is uncommon in Iceland, but when it does strike, the sheep are typically destroyed at once. The arrival of sheep with ARR is a first in Iceland, and with the progeny he may produce, may herald brighter days for Iceland’s sheep population as a whole.

By the by, sheep enthusiasts may like to know that we have this smart poster on offer, which you can hang proudly for your guests to see.

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