The NordGen Council for Farm Animal Genetic Resources gives NordGen advice on different matters concerning our operations. The council meets twice a year, and the Nordic countries takes turn on being the host.This fall, the council met in Iceland and after the meeting, the participants went on an excursion to Iceland’s countryside and partook in sheep gathering.
Sheep are free grazing in summer pastures and after the grazing period in mid-September, sheep will be gathered, identified and separated by their owners. After that, the owners are guiding their flock back home to the winter shelters with the aid of horses. This event is celebrated with a sheep round-up festival. Children have a day-off from school and spend it outdoors with their families.
The excursion and the council members were guided to Skaftholtsrétt, where around 3000 sheep were waiting to be identified. Some of the sheep (escorted by horses, horsemen and -women) had travelled for ten days from the the glacier Hofsjökull to Skaftholtsrétt.
Island is divided into 26 different zones in order to control animal diseases. Sheep are not expected to cross the borders of their home zones and the different sheep zones are distinguished by eartags of different colors. Skaftholtsrétt is located in zone 23 and their sheep have blue ear-tags. Skaftholtsrétt is believed to be one of the oldest sheep pen in Iceland, buildt in the 12th century. An earthquake damaged the pen in year 2000, but it was rebuilt by a group of people called “Friends of Skaftholtsrétt”on the same spot.