Icelandic Sheep Fetch Handsome Prices at First-Ever Online Auction

sheep

Icelandic sheep were auctioned in the UK’s first-ever online auction, Bændablaðið reports. The auction was handled by the Scottish “livestock marketing company” Harrison & Hetherington.

Twenty-six animals were auctioned in the two-day auction in early September. The highest-earning sheep was the only ewe on offer, Alfifa, who, according to the auction catalog, “had a single ram in 2020 and twin ewe lambs in 2021.” Alfifa fetched ISK 56,000 [£317; $438; €371].

Screenshot from Harrison & Hetherington Sheep Auction Catalog

Also for sale was Bijarni, a Shearling Ram who “[w]as commended by Tim Tyne [author of The Sheep Book for Smallholders, known as ‘the bible for sheepkeepers’] in last years [sic] show despite not being entered in ram class.” Bijarni was commended as being “Gentle natured [with] well spaced horns” and noted to “stand on his feet well.” A gimmer, or female sheep that has been weaned but not sheared, named Not Splodge was also sold, as were whether lambs, and a number of ram and ewe lambs.

The average price for ewes was ISK 53,875 [£305; $422; €357]. Rams fetched a lower average price, or ISK39,000 [£134; $185; €156]. The whethers fared a little better, with an average price of ISK 33,000 [£185; $256; €216].

Screenshot from Harrison & Hetherington Sheep Auction Catalog

Interest in Icelandic sheep has ‘completely spiralled’

The first Icelandic sheep were imported to the UK in 1979. The Icelandic Sheep Breeders of the British Isles (ISBOBI) was founded nine years later, in 1988. Per Cumberland’s News&Star, in recent years, British breeders have cross-bred Icelandic sheep with “…Blackface and Shetlands with much success; others have had particularly good results crossing with the larger continentals.”

“Icelandic rams have come into their own,” the article continues, “producing cross breeds which are considered by members of the breed society to be lighter on the ground than some heavy breeds and producing better quality meat than some smaller breeds.”

Screenshot from Harrison & Hetherington Sheep Auction Catalog

There are currently around 300 Pedigree Icelandic Sheep in the UK, and the Scottish Farmer reports that they are increasingly in demand, hence auctioneers’ decision to sell them via the more accessible, online platform. “In the past our Icelandic Sheep sales have been held as part of our wider rare breeds sales, and in holding an online sale, the aim is to open the breed up to a broader UK wide audience,” remarked Harrison & Hetherington auctioneer Grant Anderson.

“In recent years there has been so much interest in Icelandic Sheep, it has completely spiralled,” added Ruth Stanton, assistant secretary of ISBOBI. “The aim of this auction is to help provide us with a measure as to what is happening as well as a benchmark for the breed.”

Wr-App It Up! New Phone Game Encourages Safe Sex Practices

Iceland regularly has some of the highest rates of STI transmission in Europe and in response, the Directorate of Health has gotten creative with its newest public health campaign. Vísir reports that a new smartphone game, Smokkaleikurinn (‘The Condom Game’), is intended to increase Icelanders’ awareness about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and improve their safe sex practices.

“Education has gone down and infections have gone up from year to year,” remarked Björn Thorvaldsson, CEO of Gamatic, which produced the game. “So we’re working to counteract this.”

The point of the game is to use condoms (branded with logos for Durex and the Icelandic pharmacy chain Apótekarinn) to catch sperm and viruses. In between sheathings, not-so-fun facts about STIs pop on the screen, as do encouragements for the player to use condoms.

Screenshot, Stöð 2
Screenshot, Stöð 2

Björn says the game even includes a cameo by “a very well-known Icelander” who will “swim onto screen” to talk about the importance of condom use in a fun way. Although Björn did not name the famous guest star, teasers showing a sperm with a high fade haircut and decked out in a sparkly red jacket point to the Icelander in question being none other than gay icon and beloved pop sensation Páll Óskar, who readers may remember from his headlining stints at Reykjavík Pride, among many others. This wouldn’t be the first time Páll has lent his gravitas to a campaign to promote safer sex practices. In 2013, Páll directed and narrated the short film “Fáðu já!” (‘Get a Yes!’) which spoke about the importance of affirmative consent in all sexual encounters. (Watch the video here, with English subtitles.)

Screenshot, Stöð 2

“Simply put, it’s not smart to not use contraception because it’s no joke to get, as an example, chlamydia, which can make women, in some cases, infertile,” concludes Björn. “Or syphilis, if it’s allowed to progress without treatment, can have really serious consequences.”

Smokkaleikurinn will launch next week and will be available in the Apple app store for iPhones and GooglePlay for Android. At time of writing, it is unclear if the game will be available outside of Iceland.

Iceland Loses 4-0 to Germany in World Cup Qualifer

football soccer

The Iceland men’s national football team lost its world cup qualifier match in Reykjavík against Germany on Wednesday night, Vísir reports. This is Iceland’s fourth loss in six qualifying matches thus far. The team has lost five home matches in a row.

Germany took the lead in the fourth minute of the first half, with a goal by Serges Gnabry. Mark Antonios Rüdiger scored a second goal for Germany in the 23rd minute. Germany got its third goal after halftime, courtesy of Leroy Sané, and Timo Werner pounded the final nail in the coffin about a minute before the match ended.

Iceland remains, therefore, in the fifth seat with four points in the J-group, which includes Armenia, Germany, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, and Romania. Iceland has four remaining qualifying matches: two home matches in October and two away matches in November.

Changes in starting lineup, Hannes retires

Head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson and Assistant Coach Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen made six changes to the starting lineup ahead of Wednesday’s match. Hannes Þór Halldórsson started as goalie in place of Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, who began the last two games. Jón Guðni Fjóluson and Ari Freyr Skúlason started as defenders in place of Kári Árnason and Guðmundur Þórarinsson. Guðlaugur Victor Pálsson was substituted in midfield for Andri Fannar Baldursson. Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson came in on the right wing and Þórir Jóhann Helgason on the left.

After the match, Hannes Þór Halldórsson announced that it was his last as part of the Icelandic National Men’s Football team. All together, Hannes played in 77 matches for Iceland—more matches than any other goalie in the history of Icelandic football. “I’ve played for the Men’s National Team for ten years now, almost to the day,” he said in an interview after the match. “I’m really proud of that and have had some incredible moments in this jersey—many of my best memories. But we’ve come to a generational changeover and we have so many great goalies, so I think this is the right time for me to step aside now and let them take the reins without me breathing down their necks. So this was my last game on the national team tonight—thank you all.”

Hannes might be leaving football, but that doesn’t mean he’s resting on his laurels. In 2021, he made his debut as a film director, with Cop Secret, which received positive advance reviews. Hannes directed and co-wrote (with Nína Pedersen and Sverrir Þór Sverrisson) the “raucously entertaining” spoof on the cop film genre.

See Also: Icelandic Football Requests Space To Enact Improvements

The Men’s National Football Team has been shaken of late by accounts of sexual assault. This has led to the resignation of director Guðni Bergsson and the entire board of the Icelandic Football Association. The Association’s CEO Klara Bjartmarz has taken an indefinite leave.

Meanwhile, a joint statement from The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, Íslenskur Toppfótbolti, and the Icelandic Football Association asked that Icelandic football be given room to follow through on the work they’re preparing to combat the issues raised in the past few weeks. The plan includes electing a new temporary board and organising a workgroup that will work on creating and reviewing the necessary work procedures to ensure the right reactions to reports of sensitive matters. The workgroup will cooperate with the communications advisor of sports and youth issues.

According to the statement, the reviewed work procedures will be implemented into all associated institutions of the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, making the association as a whole more prepared to handle such issues professionally. They note that while Icelandic football’s reputation has been damaged, it also has the strength, ability, opportunity and powerful members to improve and meet the challenges together.

Situation at National Hospital Improves

Emergency room

The National and University Hospital is lowering its emergency level from ‘Alert Phase,’ to ‘Uncertainty Phase,’ which is the lowest preparedness level. This welcome news comes via a press release issued by the hospital on Wednesday.

The downgrade in emergency level comes as hospitalizations due to COVID-19 decrease. As of Wednesday afternoon, seven people, with an average age of 53, were hospitalized due to COVID-19, only one of whom was in intensive care. None of the patients were on a respirator. With fewer COVID patients to care for, the hospital has also been able to reopen Ward A7, which usually serves as the Infectious Diseases ward. A7 had been converted to a COVID ward when there were more patients than could be accommodated in the main COVID ward.

At the time of writing, there were 930 individuals in quarantine and 544 in isolation.

Improved situation comes in the wake of a difficult August

Only weeks ago, in mid-August, Intensive Care Units at the National Hospital were “at the breaking point.” Staff was stretched and exhausted and there was a real risk that if a non-COVID emergency situation occurred, the hospital would not have the resources to respond to it. Adding to the strain was the sudden influx of tourists: 15% of patients monitored by the COVID-19 ward in mid-August were foreign tourists, with 25-40% of patients in the ICU belonging to this group.

Most infections among children aged 6 – 12

On Wednesday, RÚV also reported that the highest number of COVID-19 infections are among children aged 6-12. At the time of writing, 139 children in this age group were infected. Vaccinations are currently available to children 12 and older.