Condition of Livestock Good, Nine Sheep Killed Skip to content

Condition of Livestock Good, Nine Sheep Killed

The condition of the livestock in the ash-stricken areas in south Iceland is good considering the circumstances, according to district veterinarian Gunnar Thorkelsson in Kirkjubaejarklaustur. Mainly sheep were impacted; cattle were mostly spared.


Ash covers the lava fields around Kirkjubaejarklaustur while the sun peaks through the haze. Photo by © Robertas Mickevicius.

Nine sheep were killed. It is not known how two of them died but the other seven stumbled into ditches, thereof two lambs, reports.

“The condition of the livestock is good except that their eyes are sore. It is important to help the sheep by flushing their eyes immediately and getting the sand and ash out of them,” Thorkelsson said, adding that the sheep are incredibly quick to recover.

The couple at Arnardrangi in Landbrot, Helgi V. Jóhannsson and Sigurdís Thorláksdóttir, have been under a lot of strain in the past days. Three of their lambs were killed and their two horses are lost, they told Fréttabladid yesterday.

“The lambs had died recently and were still warm. Their mouths and nostrils were filled with sand,” Jóhannsson described. “I also found a few lambs that lay underneath the ash and were about to die. I managed to bring them inside [in time].”

Approximately 20 search and rescue teams assisted the couple with herding their livestock on Monday.

Thorláksdóttir said it is hard to describe the feeling that hit her once the eruption started. “It was horrible, just horrible. One expects many things to happen, but not this.”

Jóhannsson said it is difficult to bid one’s animals farewell, regardless of how they are killed. “It is complicated to assume the power to decide which animals shall live and which die when the sheep are taken to the slaughterhouse. But this is our livelihood. And now it seems nature made the decision for us.”

The outlook at Arnardrangi was better yesterday than during the first two days after the eruption began. Jóhannsson said he had decided to be optimistic about the days to come. “I feel totally different today. One can see the sun behind [the haze]. We couldn’t find it yesterday.”

“Now it has started to clear up and so it is necessary to take the sheep back outside and keep them inside a paddock or on a pasture where people have a good overview of the animals, and where access to fodder and running water is secured,” Thorkelsson told

Even though people are speculating that the volcanic eruption in Grímsvötn is over, it is impossible to know what will happen next. “So we should keep the sheep within reach, at least in the coming days,” he concluded.

Click here for general information about the eruption in Grímsvötn from Promote Iceland.

Please note: The next issue of the print edition of Iceland Review will include extensive coverage of the eruption. If you subscribe now, you will receive a photo book by IR editor/photographer Páll Stefánsson of the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull as a gift.

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Follow for further news updates of the eruption. If you have any photos of the current Grímsvötn eruption and would like to see them published, please send them to [email protected] and [email protected].

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